The number of Disney+ subscribers rose by 8.7 million to over 103 million in the first quarter of 2021. Despite Disney+ gaining over 70 million subscribers in a year, the quarterly gains were below the optimistic expectations of investment analysts, who were projecting an increase of nearly 15 million. The Walt Disney Company maintains that it is still on track to have between 230 and 260 million Disney+ subscribers by the end of 2024.
Disney+ passed the 100 million mark within 16 months of launch of the online video subscription service, having reached almost 95 million at the start of 2021. The rate of subscriber growth increased in March, without launching in additional markets, despite price increases in the United States and Europe.
“We are on track to achieve our guidance of 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024,” chief executive Bob Chapek told analysts.
Netflix passed the 200 million mark at the end of 2020, of which some 74 million are the United States and Canada. Netflix also disappointed investors by adding only 4 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2021, ending it with 208 million globally.
The Walt Disney Company saw direct-to-consumer revenues for the quarter increase 59% to $4 billion and operating loss decreased from $800 million to $300 million. The decrease in operating loss was due to improved results at Hulu, and to a lesser extent, at ESPN+.
Average monthly revenue per Disney+ subscriber was down to just under $4, reflecting the lower cost per subscriber from Disney+ Hotstar customers in India and Indonesia, which contribute over a third of Disney+ subscribers. Disney+ is due to launch in Malaysia and Thailand in June. Excluding Hotstar, average monthly revenue for a Disney+ subscriber is $5.61 a month.
The number of ESPN+ subscribers rose by 1.7 million to 13.8 million, paying an average of $4.55 a month.
Hulu had 37.8 million online video subscribers, and a further 3.8 million Live TV customers, with the latter paying an average of $81.83 a month after a $10 price increase in December.
Quarterly direct-to-consumer revenue for Disney was up to just under $4 billion, with an operating loss of $290 million. In comparison, Disney still received $6.7 billion from linear networks, of which $2.8 billion was operating income. Total company revenue was $15.6 billion, with an operating income of $2.5 billion.