Disney plus added 11.8 million subscriptions last quarter, bringing the total to 129.8 million, according to Disney’s Q1 2022 earnings release, and the service is still on the path to achieving 230 to 260M subscribers by 2024. After only adding 2M subscribers in the previous quarter, the company’s quarter exceeded expectations.
Disney divided the streaming service’s global subscriber base into domestic and international segments. Disney plus has 42.9 million subscribers in the US and Canada and 41.1 million worldwide. It also has 45.9M Disney plus Hotstar subscribers, a joint service from Disney and Star India’s existing streaming service.
The streaming service’s growth exceeded Wall Street’s expectations of around 7 million new subscribers. It may also have alleviated troubling questions about the state of the streaming market following Netflix’s poor quarter, which saw the company’s most nominal subscriber growth since 2015, with only 8.3 million new subscribers compared to the expected 8.5 million.
Hulu added 6.6 million new subscribers, bringing its total to 45.3 million, while ESPN+ added 4.2 million, bringing its total to 21.3 million. The total number of subscriptions across Disney’s streaming portfolio now stands at 196.4 million.
Disney’s stock increased by about 8% on news of the company’s substantial profits, which also saw its parks company rebound.
During the company’s earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated that the success of Disney+ during the qtr was mainly due to a combination of natural growth and new content. Disney+ has released several high-profile titles in the last quarter, including the Oscar-nominated “Encanto,” “Eternals,” “Hawkeye,” and “The Book of Boba Fett.” Chapek stated that the company had met its goal of releasing one new title per week and plans to double this content target.
Disney plus plans to spend $33 billion on fresh content this fiscal year to increase subscriptions and maintain the momentum from the previous quarter. Chapek also mentioned that the streaming service will have 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of financial 2024.
In addition, Chapek revealed that “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” a new Star Wars Disney+ series available upto about 10 years after Star Wars, will be released on May 25. The series stars Hayden Christensen, Joel Edgerton, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, and others, including the return of Ewan McGregor as the younger Obi-Wan.
Another Star Wars Disney Plus series, “Andor,” is set to premiere later this year. Diego Luna will reproduce his character as Cassian Andor from “Rogue One” in the series. Stellan Skarsgard, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, Genevieve O’Reilly, and others will also appear.
Disney+’s new subscriber numbers are coming as the streaming platform is launching in 42 new regions and 11 territories in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East this summer. South Africa, Turkey, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates are notable new countries. Disney has not specified the exact dates on which the service will be available in these new countries, nor has it disclosed regional pricing, but it will most likely do so in the coming months. Disney+ is presently available in 64 countries, such as the United Kingdom, US, and Canada.
Disney Plus also disclosed that by fiscal 2023, it plans to more than almost double the number of countries in which Disney+ is available to over 160. The company intends to expand its direct-to-consumer streaming business to more global markets and has formed a new International Content and Operations group to help with this effort.
Disney+ debuted in late 2019 and has since competed with Netflix (See our complete Netflix login guide), Amazon Prime Video, and several other streaming services. The online streaming service has achieved a name in the streaming space, primarily owing to its Star Wars and Marvel content.
Regarding ESPN+, Chapek revealed to CNBC that Disney would bid on the rights to be the NFL’s Sunday Ticket. The contract for DirecTV to be the exclusive provider of NFL Sunday Ticket expires after the 2022 NFL season, and many companies, including Apple and Amazon, are in early discussions about a deal. Sports programming, according to Chapek, is a critical component of the company’s streaming strategy.