Disney+ now has over 112 million subscribers worldwide, excluding another 37 million Hotstar customers. It gained over 6 million subscribers outside the United States and Canada in the last quarter. Disney has reduced losses in its direct-to-consumer business, which only lost $2.6 billion in the last year, compared to a loss of $4 billion the year before. The company says it expects the direct-to-consumer business to become profitable in a year. Making the ESPN sports available direct is inevitable but will be balanced with bundling.
The Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Iger told analysts that the Disney+ advertising supported tier grew by around 2 million subscriptions in the last quarter to a total of 5.2 million. He said that more than half of new subscribers in the United States chose an advertising supported Disney+ product.
The company reduced its operating losses on the direct-to-consumer business to $420 million for the quarter or $2.6 billion for the year. Over the last four years it has lost $11.25 billion in the endeavour, or about $7.7 million a day.
Disney will acquire the remaining stake in Hulu held by Comcast and says it is on track to roll out a more unified single app experience in the United States through Disney+. It will launch a beta version for bundle subscribers in December, with a full launch late March 2024.
“Just imagine the opportunities that are further combined Disney+, Hulu and ESPN streaming experience could offer us as a company and our consumers,” he said.
Disney aims to main ESPN the pre-eminent digital sports platform and is exploring strategic partnerships to help advance our efforts through marketing, technology, distribution and additional content.
“As we transition ESPN to a streaming future and more fully integrate general entertainment content into Disney+, we will have a DTC offering unlike any other in the industry,” he said.
“Our plan when we bring ESPN direct-to-consumer, which is inevitable, which is going to happen, and we’re planning for it, is to have what I’ll call a soft landing, which is continue to make it available as part of the bundle for those people that want to remain in the bundle or people who feel that the bundle still has value to them.”