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Cable Tech

Disney+ hits 137M subs

Unlike Netflix, The Walt Disney Company's streaming business did not disappoint to start off 2022. The company beat streaming subscriber estimates in its fiscal Q2, adding 7.9 million Disney+ subs in the period, and raising Disney+'s global total to 137 million, beating an expected 135 million.

Disney+ ended fiscal Q2 with a domestic subscriber base (US and Canada) of 44.4 million, up 19% year-over-year. The service's international base (excluding Disney+ Hotstar) climbed 28%, to 87.6 million. Disney+ Hotstar, a service focused on India, Malaysia and Thailand that carries a lower average revenue per user (ARPU) than Disney+ does in other markets, ended Q2 with 50.1 million subs, up 42%. Global Disney+ ARPU rose 9% to $4.35.

(Source: Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo)
(Source: Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo)

The increase at Disney+ comes ahead of a plan to launch an ad-supported version of the streaming service for the US in late 2022 and follow with versions for international markets sometime in 2023. The current ad-free and coming ad-supported tiers will both feed into Disney's target to have between 230 and 260 million Disney+ subscribers by the company's fiscal Q4.

Hulu's subscription VoD service had 41.4 million subs, up 10%, while the Hulu Live TV/SVoD combo service ended the quarter with 4.1 million subs, up 8%. With everything rolled up, Hulu ended the quarter with 45.6 million subs, up 10%.

On the financial side, Disney+'s direct-to-consumer (DTC) unit, which runs Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, generated revenues of $4.9 billion, up 23%.

But the DTC division also swung to a loss of -$877 million, widened from a year-ago loss of -$290 million. Disney blamed the wider losses on higher losses at Disney+ and ESPN+, coupled with lower operating income at Hulu. Disney+ losses increased due to rising programming, production marketing and technology costs, the company said.

Disney posted total fiscal Q2 revenues of $19.2 billion, below the $20.1 billion expected by analysts.

Some analysts and investors were worried about a streaming slowdown at Disney after Netflix lost 200,000 subs in the first quarter of 2022. But Disney's better-than-expected results in the streaming category didn't immediately lead to a rebound in The Mouse's stock price. Disney shares were down $2.51 (2.39%) to $102.70 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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