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Disney Plus approaches 30 million subscribers

By Hugh Wilson

Disney reports mixed first quarter earnings but streaming service exceeds expectations

Disney’s streaming service Disney Plus has attracted nearly 29 million subscribers in just three months, exceeding the company’s most optimistic expectations.

The service was launched in November to rival the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and is already well on the way to hitting its target of 60 to 90 million global subscribers by 2024.

The service is currently only available in the US, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. The company expects further rapid growth to come from expansion into Europe, India and Latin America.

Disney Plus has benefited from the phenomenal success of Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian, which introduced the character of Baby Yoda. Toys and other products associated with the hit character will go on sale in the coming months, Disney said.

Disney Plus costs $7 (£5.36, €6.35) a month full price but many subscribers have arrived via a free promotional deal with Verizon. Disney chief executive Robert A Iger said average monthly revenue per paid subscriber was currently $5.56. He added that Disney Plus “has exceeded even our greatest expectations.”

Disney has piled cash into original content and promotion for Disney Plus, which goes a long to explaining mixed quarterly results.

The company’s total revenues rose 36 per cent to $20.9bn, while operating losses in its direct-to-consumer business, which includes Disney Plus, widened to $693m.

Revenues at Disney’s movie business grew to $3.8bn on the back of new Star Wars and Frozen films.

The company said that the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has closed the Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland for more than a week so far, could drag down income in both locations.

FURTHER READING: Disney+ hits 10m sign-ups on first day

FURTHER READING: Disney’s streaming service Disney+ launches in the Netherlands, US and Canada

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