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What Streaming Slowdown? Disney+ Added 14.4 Million Subscribers in Q3

Netflix now maintains *just* a 68.6 million-subscriber lead over the surging Disney+.

A teen girl in an orange tee and blue shirt, wearing a matching blue mask over her eyes, stands outside a train in Pakistan; still from "Ms. Marvel"

“Ms. Marvel”

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

According to CEO Bob Chapek, Disney had an “excellent” fiscal third quarter. He’s a bit biased, sure, but we cannot argue with the numbers. (Well, we can probably take some issue with the slowed growth at ESPN+ and Hulu.)

Disney+ ended Q3 with 152.1 million overall streaming subscribers, up from 137.7 million on April 2, 2022. Compare that with the 220.7 million subs Netflix reported at the end of the same quarter. Keep that Netflix number handy for a moment.

ESPN+ now has 22.8 million subs, up from 22.3 million three months ago. Hulu reported having 46.2 million subscribers, up from 45.6 million in Q2 2022. Of those, 42 million are straight-up Hulu SVOD; 4 million have elected to add Hulu’s Live TV service.

Adding all three services up, Disney has a grand total of 221.1 total streaming subscriptions. Yes, combined the subscriptions for the individual services making up the Disney Bundle just surpassed Netflix’s overall paid global subscriber count.

Here, we’ll point out that Hulu is still the only one of the Bundle that makes money. However, its operating income declined in Q3, while losses at both Disney+ and ESPN+ increased. Disney+ is expected to reach profitability in 2024, executives said Wednesday on Disney’s Q3 conference call.

Getting more granular on the granddaddy of the Bundle, Disney+ now has 44.5 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. It has even more, 49.2 million, internationally. Disney+ Hotstar adds 58.4 million subs on top of those. While Disney+ Hotstar looks like a real star there, its ARPU (average revenue per user) is significantly lower than the others.

Both Disney+ and Netflix are launching cheaper, ad-supported options soon. On Wednesday, The Walt Disney Company revealed details of its upcoming AVOD tier; find those, including launch date and pricing, here. Disney+ AVOD will beat Netflix AVOD to market.

By the end of 2024, Disney expects to have 135-165 million Disney+ subscribers and another 80 million Disney+ Hotstar subs.

Lightyear Pixar

“Lightyear”

Disney/Pixar

Wall Street forecast Disney Q3 earnings per share (EPS) of 78 cents on $20.62 billion in revenue. The company reported 77 cents of diluted EPS; that number grew to $1.09 per share with  key adjustments. Disney posted $21.5 billion in revenue, growth of 26 percent from the comparable 2021 quarter, when movies theaters and theme parks were still struggling to attract customers. Television and film production have also gotten much better since then.

“We had an excellent quarter, with our world-class creative and business teams powering outstanding performance at our domestic theme parks, big increases in live-sports viewership, and significant subscriber growth at our streaming services. With 14.4 million Disney+ subscribers added in the fiscal third quarter, we now have 221 million total subscriptions across our streaming offerings,” Disney CEO Chapek said in prepared remarks accompanying his fiscal Q3 financials. “We continue to transform entertainment as we near our second century, with compelling new storytelling across our many platforms and unique immersive physical experiences that exceed guest expectations, all of which are reflected in our strong operating results this quarter.”

Disney’s big movie of the quarter was “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness;” “Lightyear” chipped in to a lesser extent. (To an even-lesser extent, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” did alright.)

Shares of Disney stock (DIS) closed Thursday’s normal trading day at $112.51. DIS is climbing in after-hours trading.

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