Disney+ ended 2021 with about 130 million subscribers, an annual gain of 37 percent when compared to the 95 million a year earlier. The news came as part of its most recent quarterly earnings report, in which Disney earned a net income of $1.15 billion on revenues of $21.8 billion.
“We’ve had a very strong start to the fiscal year, with a significant rise in earnings per share, record revenue and operating income at our domestic parks and resorts, the launch of a new franchise with Encanto, and a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio to 196.4 million, including 11.8 million Disney+ subscribers added in the first quarter,” Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said. “This marks the final year of The Walt Disney Company’s first century, and performance like this coupled with our unmatched collection of assets and platforms, creative capabilities, and unique place in the culture give[s] me great confidence we will continue to define entertainment for the next 100 years.”
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Two-thirds of Disney’s revenues now come from media and entertainment distribution, but its direct-to-consumer business—from services like Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN—continues to lose money. That unit posted an operating loss of $600 million, up 27 percent, on revenues of $4.7 billion, up 34 percent.
“The increase in operating loss was due to higher losses at Disney+, and to a lesser extent, ESPN+, partially offset by improved results at Hulu,” the firm explained. “Lower results at Disney+ reflected higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue. Higher subscription revenue was due to subscriber growth and increases in retail pricing. The increases in costs and subscribers reflected growth in existing markets and to a lesser extent, expansion to new markets.”
In addition to its 130 million Disney+ subscribers, the firm now has 21.3 million ESPN+ subscribers, up 76 percent, and 45.3 million Hulu subscribers, up 15 percent. Most Hulu subscribers—41 million of them—subscribe to the streaming video service only, and not to the version with live TV services. But Hulu’s average monthly revenue per subscriber, $12.96, is much higher than that of Disney+ ($6.68) or ESPN+ ($5.16).