It is no surprise that Disney+ has been a major bright spot for the Walt Disney Company throughout the pandemic. With the world having to quarantine, finding something to do was the biggest challenge. Luckily for many of us, Disney+ launched November 2019 with both nostalgic IPs and new content.
After a highly successful year, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has confirmed Disney+’s subscriber count and it is quite large! The Walt Disney Company’s 2021 first fiscal quarter earnings report noted that:
“We believe the strategic actions we’re taking to transform our Company will fuel our growth and enhance shareholder value, as demonstrated by the incredible strides we’ve made in our DTC business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We’re confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content and the upcoming launch of our new Star-branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward.”
It is important to point out that the 146 million subscribers are across all of Disney’s streaming platforms — Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ — with the bulk coming from Disney+, which has reached 94 million subscribers in just over a year.
Chapek stated, “I’m really proud of how our team has performed in the face of a multitude of ongoing challenges.” The streaming platform is clearly one of Disney’s recent successes.
When theme parks were closed, Disney was (and is) still able to do what they do best and provide Guests with entertainment. That being said, they immediately began pumping out more content and found ways to offer films that were supposed to be theatrical releases on the streaming service, instead. Both Mulan and Soul debuted on Disney+.
Disney also found entirely new ways to bring stage entertainment to viewers. For example, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was purchased by Disney and was available to stream on Disney+ in July 2020. The popularity of the musical caused subscriptions to increase.
Chapek commented on the difference between using Premier Access for some films (which charges Disney+ members an additional fee on top of their subscription payment), as opposed to a direct Disney+ release at no additional charge.
“[In regards to Soul being a “free” release] We thought that was a really nice thing to do for our consumer base, and our subscriber base, given the holiday and given the fact that we have talked consistently about remaining flexible in terms of how we’re going to go ahead and put our titles out into the marketplace. We were absolutely thrilled by what that brought to our business in terms of both acquisition and retention, and so I would say it was a big hit with our subscriber base.”
Chapek noted, “While these remain challenging times, we are more confident than ever that we will emerge from this crisis in a strong position.”
Considering the streaming platform alone is almost at 100 million subscribers in just over a year, it is clear that Disney is emerging stronger when it comes to their streaming entertainment sector. The company even restructured so that it could turn is primary focus to Disney+.
Even with all of the success Disney+ has seen, Walt Disney Company CFO Christine McCarthy said, “A decrease in home entertainment results was driven by the absence of significant title releases in the quarter, compared to the performance of Toy Story 4, The Lion King and Aladdin in the prior-year quarter.”
With the amount of Star Wars (The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and more), and Marvel content (WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and more) that will be going out on the service, on top of the current content being produced, it is likely that their popularity will allow Disney to see an increase in the future.
McCarthy noted, “with Disney Plus originals along with the theatrical releases and the library titles we’ll be adding something new to the service every week. And in general, I would say we are very pleased with the engagement overall, especially when we put something like WandaVision on the service.”
With 146 million subscribers, Disney is climbing at a speed much faster than streaming leader, Netflix, ever did.
Do you own a Disney+ account? Let us know how you like the service?