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Disney+ Reaches 94.9 Million Subscribers … And Counting

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In its First Quarter Earnings Report for 2021, Disney announced this week that its streaming service, Disney+, has reached 94.9 million subscribers worldwide…and that was BEFORE anyone joined to watch WandaVision.

The number of Disney+ subscribers jumped considerably from the 86 million announced by Disney in December, resulting most likely from the release of Pixar’s Soul and the final episodes of the second season of The Mandalorian. With an original goal for the streaming service of 90 million subscribers in four years, Disney has now hit the ‘reset’ button on its expectations for Disney+, aiming to reach between 230 and 260 million subscribers by 2024.

As the 94.9 million mark was tallied on January 2, 2021, the number of Disney+ subscribers does not reflect those who may have registered for the service to tune in to the highly-anticipated ‘WandaVision,’ which premiered on January 15, 2021. With the first-ever Marvel series becoming an instant hit, the total number of Disney+ subscribers may now well exceed 100 million.

With Disney’s Hulu now reaching 39.4 million subscribers and ESPN+ topping 12.1 million, Disney’s direct-to-consumer revenue is at $3.5 billion, up 73 percent year over year. Monthly revenue per paid subscriber, however, dropped over the same period to just $4.03 per subscriber, due in part to the addition of Disney+ Hotstar, available in India and Indonesia and at a much lower cost to subscribers.

To increase its monthly revenue per subscriber, Disney will raise the price for its streaming service from $6.99 to $7.99 per month beginning on March 26, 2021. The Disney streaming “bundle” of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ will also increase in price by $1.00 to $13.99 per month.

With total revenue at $16.25 billion, Disney beat its expectations for the quarter – to a large extent, no doubt, the result of the ongoing success of its streaming services. However, total revenue for the company was down over 20 percent from last year, the consequences from the large financial hit exacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With park closures, some followed by openings but with subsequent Guest number restrictions, and the entire shutdown of its cruise ship business, Disney’s businesses – and revenue – have been impacted immensely.

With many movie theaters closed indefinitely, Disney has been forced to delay the release of many major blockbusters, and has therefore shifted its focus to its direct-to-consumer fare in the upcoming months.

February 23, 2021 is the premiere date for Star, Disney’s international replacement for Hulu. On Disney+, Raya and the Last Dragon will be released for paid Premier Access on March 5, 2021. Marvel series’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts in March, and Loki follows in May. And looking ahead, Disney+ has recently announced a multitude of new series and films from Marvel, Star Wars and Disney to be released in the not-too-distant future.

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