‘The Mandalorian’ season 2 and animated-film ‘Soul’ have proved to be major subscriber gainers for Disney+
The two stories have gained the streaming platform over 94.9 million subscribers during the final three months of the year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Disney has now topped the 90 million goal that it had previously set for Disney+ sign-ups by the end of fiscal 2024. It has also hit a milestone that took Netflix nearly a decade to reach. Disney+ has been able to achieve significant market penetration thanks in large part to its relationship with Indian streamer Hotstar, which it acquired as part of its purchase of the 20th Century Fox assets. The company disclosed in December that Hotstar, which comes bundled with Disney+ programming in India, accounted for 30 percent — or around 26 million — of Disney+’s total subscribers.
The company has since revised that four-year plan with a new goal of reaching between 230 million and 260 million subscribers by 2024.
Overall, Disney`s direct-to-consumer streaming business is up 73 percent year over year, with revenue of $3.5 billion.
Disney is planning to help boost those numbers in the coming months, though, with its first price increase for the service in the US set to arrive next month — starting on March 26, Disney Plus will cost $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year (up from $6.99 a month or $69.99 per year), the report said.
Disney+, which launched in November 2019, kicked off its second year in operation with a new season of tentpole original The Mandalorian. It also moved Pixar’s Soul, which was originally intended for a theatrical release, to the service for a Christmas Day debut. Another programming that premiered during the quarter included the NASA drama series The Right Stuff.
CEO Bob Chapek touted the release of Soul as “a really nice thing to do for our consumer base.” He added that the company was “absolutely thrilled by what [the release] brought to our business both in terms of acquisition and retention” of subscribers.
Despite the subscriber growth, streaming remains a money loser for Disney. Direct-to-consumer platforms generated $3.5 billion in revenue during the fiscal first quarter but lost $466 million, a decrease from $1.1 billion in losses during the same period last year.
Disney attributed the increase in revenue and decline in operating losses to an increase in subscribers and advertising revenue at Hulu. CFO Christine McCarthy told investors that most of Hulu’s subscribers are signed up for the ad-supported plan, which has helped with the growth of its advertising business. “We like the mix that we have,” she noted.
To some extent, Disney+ also contributed to the positive trend due to the increase in subscribers to the service. Disney expects losses at Disney+ to peak this year and for the service to become profitable in fiscal 2024.
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