The Walt Disney Company revealed on Thursday that it counts ad revenue when calculating Average Revenue Per User for Disney+ Hotstar; the ARPU as of Q2 2021 stands at Rs 55 (US$0.75), a rough estimate we were able to arrive at using other details provided by Disney. “ARPU at Disney+ Hotstar was down significantly versus the first quarter due to lower advertising revenue as a result of the timing of IPL cricket matches and the impact of COVID in India,” Christine M. McCarthy, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, said in an earnings call. The ARPU last quarter was US$0.90. Disney+ Hotstar, which is available in Indonesia as well as India, accounts for one third of Disney+ users around the world, McCarthy said; that translates to 34.5 million subscribers, and US$77.6 million in quarterly revenue from Disney+ Hotstar.
Hotstar has essentially added just about 7 million new customers in an IPL quarter. With the cricket tournament postponed, the subscription growth over the season, which will be clearer next quarter, are likely to disappoint as well.
What is a subscriber?
McCarthy’s revelation that Disney+ Hotstar ARPU was down due to a dip in ad revenue raise some questions. Is Disney counting ad revenue from users when it calculates ARPU? If so, whose ad revenue? Just that of paying subscribers, or everyone watching things on Hotstar? We have reached out to Disney for clarification on what exactly constitutes a subscriber, and how ARPU for Disney+ Hotstar is calculated. Inc42 has estimated that two-thirds of Hotstar’s revenue comes from advertising. With more launches in South East Asia, this share is likely going to shrink, as those markets tend to be easier places to make subscription revenue (and more of it, on a per-user basis).