Disney+ gained 12.1 million subscribers in the last three months, nearly 2 million of them in the United States and Canada, to reach 164.2 million just three years after launch. The Disney direct-to-consumer businesses reported revenues of $19.6 billion in the last year yet made an annual operating loss of $4 billion. As Disney prepares to celebrate 100 years in the business it is aiming for its online video service to be profitable within two years.
There are 46.4 million Disney+ subscribers in the United States and Canada, up from 44.5 million in three months and from 38.8 million a year previously. There are a further 56.5 million outside the United States, up from 36.0 million in a year. That excludes 61.3 million Disney+ Hotstar subscribers, up from 43.3 million, each generating an average of just 58 cents a month for the service. That makes a total of 164.2 million, up 39% on 118.1 million a year previously.
ESPN+ subscribers rose to 4.84 million from 4.74 million a year previously.
The number of Hulu online video subscribers in the United States rose to 42.8 million from 39.7 million, with a gain of 400,000 subscribers to the live television service, which now has 4.4 million subscribers, giving a total of 47.2 million.
Direct-to-consumer revenues for the quarter increased 8% to $4.9 billion while the quarterly operating loss reached $1.5 billion, or over $4 billion over the year.
Bob Chapek, the chief executive of The Walt Disney Company, told analysts that the direct-to-consumer segment has reached peak operating losses. He said the introduction of a Disney+ advertising supported tier in December, together with price increases, would place the company on the path to achieve a profitable streaming business.
“The rapid growth of Disney+ 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, and we expect our DTC operating losses to narrow going forward and that Disney+ will still achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate,” he said.
Disney+ has secured more than 100 advertisers for the launch of its advertising supported subscription tier. The company says it has over 8,000 existing relationships with advertisers.
Expect price increases for other subscriptions. The chief executive told analysts: “we still have some opportunity for continued price value exploration on all of our services.”
Disney reported annual revenues of $87.7 billion, up from $67.4 billion the year before, which was affected by the coronavirus pandemic. However, free cash flow was down 47% to $1.1 billion.