Disney Plus Tops Expectations, Reaches 116 Million Subscribers

Disney Plus rebounded in the second calendar quarter of the year, reeling in 12.4 million net new subscribers to stand at 116 million worldwide as of July 3 — beating analyst targets.

Wall Street analysts on average had forecast Disney Plus subscribers coming in at 112.8 million for the period.

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The results come after Disney missed expectations for Disney Plus net adds for the first three months of the year, after it boomed in 2020 amid pandemic lockdowns.

The July 3 quarter, Disney’s fiscal Q3 2021, was the first period to fully reflect Disney Plus’ price hikes earlier this spring. In the U.S., the streaming package went up one dollar, to $7.99/month, as of March 26.

Overall, Disney beat the Street on the top and bottom lines, with total revenue up 45% on the growth of streaming and the reopening of its theme parks.

The subscriber figures for the Mouse House’s flagship streamer include customers of Disney Plus Hotstar, which is available in India and Indonesia. The company notes that Disney Plus Hotstar average monthly revenue per paid subscriber is significantly lower than for Disney Plus in other markets.

Indeed, Disney Plus’ average revenue per sub per month continued to fall, dropping 10% year over year to $4.16 as of July 3, 2021.

Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer revenue for the quarter jumped 57%, to $4.3 billion, and the segment cut its operating loss in half to $300 million (versus $600 million a year earlier). The DTC group’s decrease in operating loss was due to subscription and ad revenue growth at Hulu. Disney Plus recorded a bigger loss in the quarter, which the company attributed to higher costs for content, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by higher subscription revenue and early-access VOD revenue for “Cruella.”

As the pandemic recovery has stretched into 2021, Disney has continued to use Disney Plus as an outlet for premium VOD sales of certain big movie releases, including “Cruella,” “Black Widow” and “Disney’s Jungle Cruise.” In its opening weekend (July 9-11), “Black Widow” earned $60 million on Disney Plus worldwide, according to Disney, in addition to the $158 million it pulled in at the global box office. But the release on streaming prompted a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, who accused Disney of shortchanging her by not releasing “Black Widow” with an exclusive theatrical window.

First launched in November 2019, Disney Plus is the streaming home for movies and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. The service’s lineup also includes “The Simpsons” and a slate of originals like Marvel’s “Loki,” Star Wars-set series “The Mandalorian,” the animated “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” a TV adaptation of “Turner & Hooch” and “What If?,” the first Marvel Cinematic Universe animated series. In certain countries outside the U.S., Disney Plus also includes Star, the media conglomerate’s new general-entertainment content brand.

(Pictured above: Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in “Loki”)

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