Disney lays off thousands as subscription numbers plummet, but profits rise

Los Angeles, California - Bob Iger, the old and new CEO, is back at Walt Disney, but the entertainment giant's dreams are far from coming true. Amid a drop in subscription numbers, mass layoffs are on the cards.

Disney+ lost 2.4 million subscribers during the first quarter.
Disney+ lost 2.4 million subscribers during the first quarter.  © REUTERS

The company’s marquee streaming service Disney+ lost 2.4 million subscribers during the first quarter, bringing its total count to 161.8 million, mainly stemming from declines in its Disney+Hotstar product in India.

The service gained subscribers elsewhere, adding 1.4 million subscribers in the US and internationally, not including Hotstar.

Overall, Disney’s streaming apps – Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ – have 235 million subscribers.

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Disney’s streaming business continued to bleed cash, losing more than $1 billion during three months that ended in December.

Nonetheless, Disney reported earnings and revenues that beat Wall Street estimates. The company generated sales of $23.5 billion, up 8% from the same quarter a year ago, while profits of $1.28 billion were up 11%.

Disney boss announces cost-cutting

Disney CEO Bob Iger signaled that major changes and cost-cutting are coming to the company.
Disney CEO Bob Iger signaled that major changes and cost-cutting are coming to the company.  © REUTERS

Still, Iger signaled that major changes and cost-cutting are coming to the company as he tries to get the world’s best-known entertainment brand back on track after a rocky couple of years.

"After a solid first quarter, we are embarking on a significant transformation, one that will maximize the potential of our world-class creative teams and our unparalleled brands and franchises," Iger said in a statement.

"We believe the work we are doing to reshape our company around creativity, while reducing expenses, will lead to sustained growth and profitability for our streaming business, better position us to weather future disruption and global economic challenges, and deliver value for our shareholders."

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That will come at the cost of at least 7,000 employees' jobs, as The Verve reported.

More layoffs are expected. Iger has instituted a mandatory return-to-work policy, requiring hybrid employees to be in the office four days a week.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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