As part of its latest quarterly earnings report, The Walt Disney Company said that its Disney+ streaming service now has over 116 million subscribers.
“We ended the third quarter in a strong position, and [we] are pleased with the Company’s trajectory as we grow our businesses amidst the ongoing challenges of the pandemic,” Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said. “We continue to introduce exciting new experiences at our parks and resorts worldwide, along with new guest-centric services, and our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platforms.”
Disney+ launched in November 2019 and the service has quickly racked up subscribers since then. It had over 26 million subscribers by February 2020, 50 million in April 2020, 73 million in November 2020, 100 million in March 2021, and 103.6 million in May 2021. By comparison, Netflix, the market leader, reported in July that it has over 209 million paid subscribers.
Disney reported a net income of $923 million on revenues of $17 billion for the quarter ending July 3, 2021, a dramatic turnaround from its COVID-era losses of the previous year in which it reported a net loss of $4.7 billion on revenues of $11.8 billion. But Disney’s media and entertainment businesses, which include Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, continued to operate in the negative, with an operating loss of $300 million in the quarter, a decrease from the $600 million it reported in the year-ago quarter.
“The decrease in operating loss was due to improved results at Hulu, partially offset by a higher loss at Disney+,” the firm reported. “The increase at Hulu was due to subscription revenue growth and higher advertising revenue, partially offset by an increase in programming and production costs … The higher loss at Disney+ was due to higher programming and production, marketing, and technology costs, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue and Premier Access revenue for [the movie] Cruella in the current quarter. Higher subscription revenue reflected subscriber growth and increases in retail pricing. The increases in costs and subscribers reflected [the] ongoing expansion of Disney+ including launches in additional markets.”
Disney’s improved overall YOY results were instead due to its Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products business, which has rebounded in 2021 despite the ongoing pandemic and the Delta variant. That business reported revenues of $4.3 billion in the quarter, up from $1.1 billion one year ago. Disney’s US-based parks were closed for the duration of the year-ago quarter, while its international parks were closed for most of the quarter.