Disney Plus surpasses 116 million subscribers

Disney sees gains for ESPN Plus streamer, while Hulu's Live TV product loses customers
(Video frames courtesy the Walt Disney Company, animation by The Desk)

More than 116 million customers now have a subscription to Disney Plus, the Walt Disney Company affirmed on Thursday.

The data was revealed as part of the company’s quarterly earnings report and beat a Wall Street consensus that predicted the service would have just over 112 million subscribers.

Disney logged gains across its two other streaming products, Hulu and ESPN Plus, though a live television add-on available to Hulu customers saw a decline in subscribers.

ESPN Plus now has more than 14 million customers, an increase from just over 8 million last year, while the on-demand version of Hulu grew to serve more than 39 million customers, the company said.

Hulu’s live television service increased from 3.1 million subscribers last year to 3.4 million this year, though it lost 100,000 customers in the three-month quarter ending in July. A Hulu with Live TV subscription costs $65 a month, though Disney said the average customer was paying well over $80 a month for the service after the company introduced several add-on programming and feature packages.

Disney’s three direct-to-consumer streaming products helped pushed revenue to over $4.3 billion  for the quarter, with its operating loss reduced from $600 million to $300 million during the same time period.

The company said its revenue was spurred by an increase in customer interest in Hulu, which in turn allowed Disney to charge more for advertising that is displayed on some of Hulu’s subscription tiers.

Hulu’s revenue helped the company curb some of its operating loss at Disney Plus, where it experienced higher programming, production and marketing costs. Disney said a direct-to-consumer release of its theatrical, live-action film “Cruella” helped further stem operating losses at Disney Plus.

Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming revenue is quickly approaching that of its linear networks, where the company brought in more than $6.9 billion from its domestic and international broadcast and pay TV networks

The domestic networks — ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, FX, FXX and Freeform — brought in the biggest chunk of change, with those channels earning Disney more than $5.5 billion in revenue last quarter, a year-over-year increase of 13 percent. The company’s international channels — branded “Fox” in some regions and “Star” in others — brought in more than $1.3 billion.

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