One of the biggest issues currently plaguing The Walt Disney Company and Disney CEO Bob Iger is the constant headache that is Disney+. Disney+ launched in November 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced nearly everyone in the world to remain in their homes for months at a time. After seeing some great initial success, Disney+ has been struggling. In just four years, it has lost The Walt Disney Company more than $11 billion.
When he stepped back into the CEO role in November 2022, Bob Iger knew that he would have to figure out what to do about Disney+. Now-fired CEO Bob Chapek repeatedly promised that Disney+ would be profitable by 2024. However, Chapek is currently being sued for lying over those statements, so it is uncertain whether or not that is true.
Since returning, Iger has canceled nearly a dozen original Disney+ series. This includes The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Big Shot, National Treasure: Edge of History, Willow, and Doogie Kamealoha M.D. He also had two series canceled before they aired, even though they were already filmed — The Spiderwick Chronicles and Nautilus, which was based on Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
And now, Iger is on the verge of taking even more financial strain off of Disney’s plate.
According to The Wrap, Disney has signed off on a merger that would have the company give up its controlling stake in Disney+ Star — its streaming service in India:
The Economic Times of India reported news of the deal Monday, citing individuals with knowledge of the agreement.
The stock-and-cash merger will reportedly see the Ambani-led group get 51% of Disney’s Star India business to Disney’s 49%.
The report said the handshake deal was reached by Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive tapped by Disney CEO Bob Iger in July to consult on strategy, and Manoj Modi, a trusted aide to Ambani, who Forbes named the richest person in India in October, with a net worth of $92 billion.
Disney acquired Star India as part of its purchase of 20th Century Fox back in 2019. Disney+ Star officially launched in India in 2021 and has around 40 million subscribers. The platform has been struggling recently, showing a 24% decline just last quarter alone.
The merger will make Reliance Industries the largest media and entertainment company in India — a country with more than 1.4 billion people. The deal is expected to be finalized in January and meet federal approval in February.
Are you a subscriber to Disney+ Star? What do you love about it? Let us know in the comments!