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Disney+ Nears 138 Million Subscribers, Beating Q2 Expectations — but Not Everything Was a Win

Disney rival Netflix lost 200,000 global paid streaming subscribers over the same three-month period.

RED ALERT – In Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film “Turning Red,” 13-year-old Mei Lee “poofs” into a giant panda when she gets too excited (which for a teenager is practically ALWAYS). This unfortunate new reality for the teenager lands her in a multitude of awkward situations. Featuring Rosalie Chiang as the voice of Mei Lee, “Turning Red”  will debut exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) on March 11, 2022. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“Turning Red”

PIXAR

Disney ended its second fiscal quarter of 2022 with a grand total of 205.6 million total global paid streaming subscribers, up 9.2 million from the prior quarter. That all-in sum includes Disney+, Disney+ Hotstar, ESPN+, and Hulu. The subscriber growth outpaced media analysts’ expectations of growth in the 5 million (or so, on average) range.

Disney+ alone hit 137.7 million subscribers worldwide on April 2, 2022, the company reported, an increase of 7.9 million. In the U.S. and Canada, Disney+ reached 44.4 million subs, up from 42.9 million on January 1, 2022, when the company first broke out a domestic tally. Hulu hit 45.6 million subscribers, of which 41.4 million were SVOD-only and the remaining 4.1 million also had the live-TV package. ESPN+ chipped in with 22.3 million subscribers.

The Walt Disney Company posted direct-to-consumer (DTC, aka streaming) revenues of $4.9 billion, up 23 percent from the comparable quarter one year ago. The streaming services posted a combined operating loss of $900 million, with straight-up losses at Disney+ and ESPN+ and less of a lifeline from Hulu.

Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED), which houses streaming and linear TV, the film studio, and content sales/licensing, saw revenues rise nine percent from the same quarter in 2021. Disney Parks and products revenues more than doubled as theme parks continued to get back to normal operations.

All told, Disney posted Q2 adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.08 on $19.249 billion in revenue. Those numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations of $1.07 in earnings per share on $18.91 billion in revenue, according to a consensus of 14 media analysts compiled by Yahoo Finance. Disney’s operating profits got nailed by a $1 billion reduction in the quarter to, per the company, “early terminate license agreements for film and television content delivered in previous years” in favor of using the content on its own DTC services.

Content-wise, of note in the measured quarter, Disney decided to skip theaters with “Turning Red” and instead brought it right to Disney+ on Feb. 21, 2022. “Encanto” reached Disney+ in time for Christmas, and the sensation spilled over into 2022 in a big way. In terms of TV shows, “Moon Knight” waited until the final day of the quarter to premiere there, so the Oscar Isaac superhero series couldn’t have made much of an impact in Q2.

"Encanto"

“Encanto”

Disney

Disney’s lone new theatrical release in the quarter was “Death on the Nile,” which opened to nearly $13 million domestically. To date, the Kenneth Branagh film has made more than $45 million here and an additional $91 million internationally, according to Box Office Mojo. There was some holdover theatrical revenue from Q1 releases “Encanto,” West Side Story,” and “The King’s Man.”

“Our strong results in the second quarter, including fantastic performance at our domestic parks and continued growth of our streaming services — with 7.9 million Disney+ subscribers added in the quarter and total subscriptions across all our DTC offerings exceeding 205 million — once again proved that we are in a league of our own,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a prepared statement accompanying the financials. “As we look ahead to Disney’s second century, I am confident we will continue to transform entertainment by combining extraordinary storytelling with innovative technology to create an even larger, more connected, and magical Disney universe for families and fans around the world.”

Chapek and his lieutenants hosted a conference call with media analysts at 4:30 p.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail. In addition to the financial performance, expect Chapek & Co. to discuss their ongoing rivalry with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which has devolved into the dissolution of Disney’s special-tax district in the Orlando area.

Disney’s fiscal Q1 ended on January 1, 2022. (Fiscal quarters do not need to align with the calendar, though they usually do.) Then, the company reported having 196.4 million total streaming subscribers across its overall direct-to-consumer (DTC) portfolio. At the time, combined DTC revenues jumped 34 percent to $4.7 billion, but the segment’s operating loss rose as well, to $600 million. Programming and production, and marketing and technology (those are two different official groupings) expenses at Disney+ were the main culprits there.

Previously, executives have stated a goal of having 230 million-260 million total paid Disney+ subscribers by September 2024.

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