Disney Streamers Surpass Netflix In Global Subs, But Global 2024 Disney+ Sub Target Lowered By 15M

Combined global subscriptions for Disney’s streaming services grew by 16.5 million to reach 221.1 million as of the end of the company’s fiscal third quarter, surpassing Netflix’s, which totaled 220.7 million as of the end of the first half.

Disney’s total also far outstripped analysts’ average projection of 147 million global subscriptions.

During its earnings call Wednesday for the fiscal quarter ended July 2, Disney reported global subs growth of 31% for Disney+, to 152.1 million; 8% growth for Hulu video-on-demand and Hulu+ Live TV, to 46.2 million; and 53% growth for ESPN+, to 22.8 million.

However, Disney+’s domestic subscriber growth continued to slow. The streamer added just 100,000 subs in the U.S. and Canada in the latest quarter, to reach 44.5 million. Last quarter, Disney+ gained 1.5 million subs in North America, to reach 44.4 million.

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Disney also reduced its forecast for global Disney+ subscriptions by 2024. The company is now projecting between 215 million and 245 million, versus the 230 million to 260 million it forecast when Disney+ launched in November 2019.

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy attributed the reduced forecast to the likelihood of slowed growth for India-based Disney+ Hotstar due to Disney’s having lost the streaming rights for Indian Premier League cricket to Viacom18, which paid $2.6 billion.

When the news was announced in late June, Media Partners Asia estimated that Disney+ Hotstar could lose as many as 20 million subscribers.

McCarthy stressed, however, that it would “refine” its Hotstar forecast (which now calls for 80 million subs in 2024) in coming months, and that the forecast for non-Hotstar Disney+ subscribers is “largely consistent” with its previous guidance of accounting for 60% to 70% of total global Disney+ subscribers, or about 135 million to 165 million.

Disney direct-to-consumer business recorded an operating loss of $1.061 billion, million up from $293 million a year ago and $887 million in the second quarter.

Disney also affirmed its projection that Disney+ will reach profitability by 2024.

Disney's total D2C operating losses in fiscal Q3 rose to $1.061 billion -- up from $293 million a year ago and $887 million in its fiscal Q2.

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