Disney+ surpasses 100 million subscribers, but it's fewer than expected

The platform’s slower growth indicates a shift in pandemic streaming behaviors.

Streaming’s pandemic-fueled boom may be slowing down. 

That’s what it looked like in Disney’s Q2 earnings, released Thursday. Streaming service Disney+ reached 103.6 million worldwide subscribers — an increase over Q1 subs, but less than the 110 million analysts expected. 

The slow down comes after Disney+ shattered growth expectations in its first year on the market, surpassing 100 million subscribers. Disney+ recently hiked its monthly subscription fee to $7.99, up from $6.99. Disney said it still anticipates the service will grow between 230 million and 260 million subscribers by 2024.

Disney+ gained 8.7 million global subscribers in its second quarter, on the heels of new releases including WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The service attracted 10 million subscribers within a day of its launch in November 2019.

The service’s average monthly revenue per user dipped to $3.99, 29% year over year, due to the launch of Indian and Indonesia VOD service Hotstar. Disney+’s average revenue per paid subscriber would have been $5.62 in the quarter, excluding Hotstar, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said on the call.

As for Hulu, subscribers increased 30% in Q2 to 41.6 million, and ESPN+ clocked in at 13.8 million subscribers, a 75% increase year over year. Overall, Disney’s subscriber count across its streaming services hit 159 million.

“Every single [global subscriber] market has exceeded expectations,” said Disney chief executive Bob Chapek.

Disney also inked an eight-year deal with pro soccer league LaLiga and extended its Major League Baseball contract through 2028. The company is also expanding Disney+ Hotstar into Malaysia and Thailand in June.

Disney+’s slow subscriber growth comes as stay-at-home orders have lifted and other entertainment options like movie theaters have slowly reopened their doors, affecting other streaming services as well. In April, Netflix reported it added just 4 million global subscribers in the second quarter, also missing expectations.


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