Disney+ Adds Almost 8M Subscribers In Fiscal Q2, Nearly 20M Over Past Six Months

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Disney delivered strong streaming gains, adding nearly 8 million new subscribers to Disney+ in its fiscal second quarter.

Disney+ reached a global total of 137.7 million subscribers as of the April 2 end of the quarter, up from 129.8 million in the previous quarter. The tally was up almost 20 million from six months ago and up 33% from 103.6 million in the year-ago period.

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Wall Street analysts’ consensus had called for an addition of 5.2 million subscribers to Disney+, with only the most upbeat predicting gains in the upper-single-digit millions.

Hulu reached 45.6 million subscribers, including 3.8 million on its live TV package, up just 10% year-over year. ESPN+, riding an influx of live sports as well as high-profile docuseries, shot up 62% from the same quarter a year ago, hitting 22.3 million subscribers.

Disney+ average revenue per user (ARPU) increased 9% to $4.35. It is lower than that of many large streaming peers because it is a low-cost add-on via Hotstar in India and other South Asian territories.

Growth for Disney+ was paced by the Hotstar bundle, which reached 50.1 million, or about 36% of the total. Year-over-year, Disney+Hotstar increased 42%, compared with a 28% growth rate for Disney+ outside of Hotstar.

As the company started focusing its strategy on direct-to-consumer streaming a few years ago, its elite collection of brands and knack for marketing got Disney+ off to a stellar start. It started to flag a bit as it approached two years in the marketplace and, looking for offerings beyond the Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar core, the company has steered general-entertainment titles like The Beatles: Get Back and Dancing With the Stars to the platform.

Despite the subscriber momentum, the longtime confidence of investors in Disney’s streaming future has ebbed, with the company’s stock dropping more than 30% in 2022 to date along with many media and tech shares. It fell another 2% today to close the trading day at $105.25, its lowest level in more than two years, but rebounded a bit in after-hours trading. A pall has been cast on newer streaming aspirants by Netflix’s recent financial woes, indicating a potentially smaller universe of potential subscribers and iffier profitability outlook for all contenders.

In late 2020, buoyed by a stellar first year for Disney+ and the success of the bundle with Hulu and ESPN+, the company boosted its targets for the end of fiscal 2024 to 300 million to 350 million total streaming subscribers and 230 million to 260 million for Disney+. With a bit more than two calendar years to go before the end of fiscal 2024, the company stood at 205.6 million total streaming subscribers as of April 2.

The company’s fiscal second quarter, in particular the month of March, saw a significant influx of original programming, including premieres for Cheaper by the Dozen, Marvel series Moon Knight and Pixar’s Turning Red. The charmed run of Encanto also kicked off 2022 and appeared to bolster quarterly results. Released exclusively in theaters for 30 days from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the Oscar-winning animated film spent a dozen weeks in Nielsen’s weekly streaming top 10 in the U.S.

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