Disney+ reaches nearly 74M subs as streaming losses improve

GroupWatch Disney+

Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international business was once again toplined by rapid growth for Disney+, which launched one year ago.

The service now counts 73.7 million paid subscribers, up from 60.5 million in August. Disney+ is now nearly halfway between the subscriber forecast range the company originally set for 2024. The new Disney+ subscriber total is up to date as of October. Disney said it will update subscriber totals again during its upcoming investor day on December 10.

ESPN+ now has 10.3 million subscribers, up from 8.5 million in August, and Hulu has 36.6 million subscribers (32.5 million SVOD only and 4.1 million live TV and SVOD), up from 35.6 million in August.

Revenues for the direct-to-consumer and international segment rose 41% to $4.9 billion and segment operating loss decreased from $751 million to $580 million. Disney said the decrease in operating loss was primarily due to improvements at Hulu and ESPN+ and partially offset by higher costs at Disney+.

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Disney has been selling Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu together in a service bundle since November 2019 and while it’s likely contributed to faster subscriber growth for each service, it’s had an adverse effect on average revenue per user. ARPU at ESPN+ decreased from $5.15 to $4.54 and it also decreased from $12.67 to $12.59 at Hulu SVOD only, both of which the company partly attributed to the bundle.

Besides Disney’s streaming business and media networks, the rest of the company’s segments saw huge declines in revenue and operating income during the quarter.

“The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year,” said CEO Bob Chapek in a statement.