November 8, 2022
The Disney+ video streaming service from Walt Disney Co. gained more subscribers during the company's most recent quarter than analysts expected.
The company surpassed streaming expectations in its last quarterly earnings report too.
But Disney's overall finances in its most recent quarter clocked in just under analysts' predictions, causing the company's shares to drop slightly after the release of the company's fiscal fourth quarter results Tuesday afternoon.
Nonetheless, CEO Bob Chapek boasted that Disney's streaming video business has grown from a "nascent business to industry leader" in just a few short years, growth that has required significant investments. But he said the company had passed the peak of its investments into streaming video, and he said the company will now push toward making the operation profitable. He said the company expects to reach profitability in 2024, in part by raising prices, introducing an ad-supported version of Disney+ early next month, and reducing the company's marketing spending.
He added that the company already counts roughly 100 big advertisers lined up to support the advertising-supported version of Disney+.
Figure 1: (Source: Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo)
However, company officials warned that the streaming video market overall remains difficult to predict. And they warned that the company's future growth in the sector might be lumpy.
Revenues in Disney's direct-to-consumer unit, which houses its streaming video offerings, rose 8% year-over-year to $4.9 billion during the company's most recent quarter. But the unit's operating loss increased to $1.5 billion during the same period.
The number of Disney+ domestic subscribers totaled 46.4 million in the company's most recent quarter, up from 38.8 million in the year-ago quarter. The service reached 164.2 million subscribers globally, up from 118.1 million in the year-ago quarter. As Reuters noted, that total is above Factset estimates of 161 million.
Disney's ESPN+ grew 42% year-over-year to 24.3 million subscribers, while its Hulu offering grew 8% over the same period to 47.2 million subscribers.
But Disney's competitors aren't standing still. Netflix, for example, is potentially exploring adding sports programming to its service, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the publication reported that Netflix recently bid for the streaming rights for the ATP tennis tour for some European countries but did not win the rights.
Netflix also recently launched its own ad-supported offering.
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