Just days after HBO Max owner Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) had lifted the lid on the latest batch of streaming results, Disney has followed suit with its own quarterly results report (opens in new tab).
The entertainment giant revealed that its flagship streaming property – Disney Plus – attracted a staggering 12.1 million new subscribers between July and September this year, bringing the platform’s total total to 164.2 million. Hulu and ESPN Plus have also added more paying customers, putting the House of Mouse on its way to Christmas with an industry-high pool of 235 million subscribers.
In comparison, the entire WBD portfolio — which includes HBO, HBO Max and Discovery Plus — currently serves just 95 million subscribers, with just 2.8 million new customers in the previous quarter. Netflix added even fewer subscribers (2.4 million) over the same period, but the streamer’s global number still stands at 223 million.
Of all the best streaming services, Disney Plus continues to grow the fastest. Still, it still has a long way to go for Netflix – which appears to have bounced back after successive quarters of decline in 2022 – as the largest platform in the industry.
Moreover, subscriber growth does not automatically equate to profit. Despite the rosy reading of its customer numbers, Disney’s fourth-quarter results (the company is heading for a different fiscal year than Netflix and HBO Max) actually confirmed a $1.47 billion year-over-year loss. That’s nearly double the losses Disney suffered in 2021.
However, CEO Bob Chapek is convinced that Disney Plus will turn profitable sooner or later – and is justifiably proud of how far the streamer has come in such a short time.
“Disney Plus’ rapid growth in just three years since launch is a direct result of our strategic decision to invest heavily in creating incredible content and rolling out the service internationally,” Chapek told investors. “We expect our DTC operating losses to decline going forward and Disney Plus will still be profitable in fiscal 2024, assuming we don’t see a meaningful shift in the economic environment.”
Between June and September 2022, Disney Plus subscribers were treated to a host of new movies and TV shows that clearly boosted the streamer’s appeal to new customers. In the past three months alone, Obi-Wan Kenobi, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Pinocchio, Hocus Pocus 2, and Andor have all been released on Disney’s streaming platform.
With the roster of new Star Wars TV shows, top-tier Marvel movies, and other non-franchise offerings set to grow even more in the coming years, Disney Plus subscribers will be eating well for a while yet.
Disney expects the imminent launch of an ad-supported subscription tier to Disney Plus to help sustain the streamer’s impressive growth. “By realigning our costs and realizing the benefits of price increases and our Disney Plus ad-supported tier coming December 8, we believe we will be on the path to becoming a profitable streaming business.” that will drive continued growth and generate shareholder value well into the future. future,” said Chapek.
According to the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab)Disney’s new, lower-cost subscription package will limit ads to four minutes per hour of content, and completely limit ads when young children view through the platform’s kid-friendly user profiles.
That approach follows that of HBO Max, which launched its own cheaper subscription package in June of last year to surprising popularity. Netflix also rolled out an ad-supported plan in November 2022, although subscribers were less than free about its early implementation.
It’s clear that Disney bosses are taking the right steps to ensure that Disney Plus keeps pace with Netflix and keeps HBO Max in the dust (at least on paper). The company’s recent acquisition of the overseas broadcasting rights to Doctor Who will also only serve to boost its fortunes.
Watch out, Ted Sarandos – the House of Mouse is coming for your crown.