Disney+ subscribers surge as Netflix stumbles

The streaming giant's shares were also up by more than 6% in after-market trades

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters


Published: Thu 11 Aug 2022, 8:01 AM

The Disney+ streaming service saw its number of paying subscribers leap beyond expectations in the last quarter, as rival Netflix's subscriber count ebbed, statistics showed on Wednesday.

The number of people subscribing to Disney+ topped 152 million, up by 31 per cent from the same period a year earlier, the entertainment giant said, in an earnings report.

Disney's bottom line was also boosted by rising revenue from its theme parks, which showed signs of recovery from stifled attendance during the pandemic.

This comes at a time when many of the tech titans that flourished during the pandemic curb costs in the face of inflation, and people get back to living life in the real world, instead of online.

Also, Disney's shares were up by more than 6 per cent in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings figures.

"We had an excellent quarter, with our world-class creative and business teams powering outstanding performance at our domestic theme parks, big increases in live-sports viewership, and significant subscriber growth at our streaming services," said Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek.

The 14.4 million Disney+ subscribers added in the recently-ended quarter raised the overall number of subscriptions to its streaming services, which include Hulu and ESPN+, to 221 million, Chapek added.

"Investors will breathe a sigh of relief from Disney's robust fiscal [quarterly] earnings,'' said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Paul Verna.

"The streaming figures will be seen as an indicator of the health of the market, especially after lackluster subscriber figures from Netflix and Comcast," he added

Disney also announced that an ad-subsidised version of its streaming television subscription service will be offered in the United States, starting from December 8, at a monthly price $3 less than the ad-free offering.


Taking a page from Netflix's playbook, Disney has also been investing in shows created in places outside the United States.

The company plans to "step up" investments in such local original content, Chapek said, pointing out a film concert and docu-series focused on South Korean music sensation BTS.

He expressed confidence in Disney theatre films in the works, including the eagerly-anticipated 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever', in addition to its new Marvel superhero line-up.

The trailer for the film logged more than 170 million views in the 24 hours after its release, Chapek said.

"Disney still faces economic uncertainty and intense competition, but performance should at least temporarily put to rest some of Wall Street's gloomier perceptions about the company, and more broadly about the entertainment industry,'' Verna added.

Netflix has reported losing subscribers for two quarters in a row, as the streaming giant battles fierce competition and viewer belt tightening, though the firm assured investors of better days ahead.

The loss of 970,000 paying customers in the most recent quarter was less than expected, leaving Netflix with just shy of 221 million subscribers.

"Our challenge and opportunity is to accelerate our revenue and membership growth... and to better monetize our big audience," the firm said, in its earnings report. It also said that it had expected to gain a million paid subscribers in the current quarter.

After years of amassing subscribers, Netflix lost 200,000 customers worldwide in the first quarter, as compared to the end of 2021.

Executives have made it clear that the company will get tougher on sharing logins and passwords, which allow many to access the platform's content without paying.

In an effort to draw new subscribers, the streaming giant said it will work with Microsoft to launch a cheaper subscription plan that includes advertisements. The ad-supported offering will be in addition to the three account options already available, with the cheapest plan coming in at $10 per month, in the United States

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