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    Disney+ subscriber base rockets to 164.2m

    The streamer’s number of subscribers has risen more than predicted.

    Disney+ has proven itself to be in fine fettle going into the important holiday season after posting a bumper increase of 12 million subscribers in the third quarter, way above expectations of 9.35 million.

    The influx brings the streamer’s subscriber base up to 164.2 million ahead of the launch of its ad-supported tier.

    When factoring in viewers of Hulu and ESPN+, Disney now commands more streaming eyeballs than Netflix, with 235.7 million subscribers versus 223.09 million – handing it bragging rights in a fiercely competitive space. This came after ESPN+ grew from 22.8 million to 24.3 million subscribers, and Hulu added 1 million subscribers to reach 47.2 million.

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    In a tub-thumping letter to shareholders, chief exec Bob Chapek wrote: “2022 was a strong year for Disney, with some of our best storytelling yet … and outstanding subscriber growth at our direct-to-consumer (DTC) services, which added nearly 57 million subscriptions this year for a total of more than 235 million.”

    Looking ahead to 2024, the mouse that roared expects to command the attention of between 215 million and 245 million subscribers. However, this numerical advantage has yet to translate into cold hard cash, with total revenue standing at $20.15bn, undershooting Wall Street estimates of $21.3bn. Tellingly, Disney’s DTC division lost $1.5bn, with Disney not expecting to break into the black until 2024. 

    Disney+ is poised to introduce an ad-supported subscription tier on December 8, one month after arch-rivals Netflix launched its advertising plan.

    Keen to establish new revenue streams on its road to profitability, Disney+ has also begun trialing the sale of merchandise to subscribers, offering a range of themed products based on popular brands such as Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar.

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