Disney Plus reached a new high of 94.9 million subscribers around the world, the company announced in its Q1 2021 earnings report. Hulu now has 39.4 million subscribers, while ESPN Plus has 12.1 million subscribers.
The strong numbers for Disney Plus show a noticeable jump from the 86 million subscribers Disney announced it had reached at its investor day in December 2020. The surge in subscribers likely came from holiday streaming releases of major titles like Pixar’s Soul and the final episodes of The Mandalorian’s second season in December.
Disney Plus is doing better than Disney ever imagined
It also means that Disney has already crossed its original 90 million subscriber goal for the service — a number the company originally expected to take four years to reach. The company has since revised that four-year plan with a new goal of reaching between 230 million and 260 million subscribers by 2024.
Notably, that 94.9 million benchmark was as of January 2nd, 2021, which means it doesn’t factor in possible boosts in subscribers that Disney may have received from the debut of its first Marvel Studios TV series, WandaVision, which was released on January 15th. Assuming the highly anticipated show has caused a similar bump in subscribers, it’s possible that Disney has already managed to cross the 100 million subscriber mark by now.
Overall, Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming business is up 73 percent year over year, with revenue of $3.5 billion. Disney is still working on increasing the amount of money it actually makes from its nearly 100 million Disney Plus subscribers, though: average monthly revenue per paid subscriber dropped to $4.03 per subscriber, in part because it’s now factoring in Disney Plus Hotstar (available in India and Indonesia), which charges considerably less than the service in other markets.
Disney is planning to help boost those numbers in the coming months, though, with its first price increase for the service in the US set to arrive next month: starting on March 26th, Disney Plus will cost $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year (up from $6.99 a month or $69.99 per year). The Disney bundle — of Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus will also see a $1 increase to $13.99 a month.
Streaming was one of the brighter spots for Disney in its quarterly earnings
Streaming was one of the brighter spots for Disney in its quarterly earnings. While the company beat expectations, with total revenue of $16.25 billion, revenue was still down more than 20 percent year over year. That’s largely driven by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered the company’s cruise ship business and heavily limited the number of customers it can host at its parks.
Similarly, limited movie theaters have forced the company to delay many of its major blockbusters, although a similar reduction in marketing and distributing those films means that film delays have had less of an impact on Disney’s business overall.
Disney is continuing to focus on its direct-to-consumer offerings in the coming months: Star, its replacement for Hulu for international customers, will release in Europe, Canada, and New Zealand on February 23rd. Raya and the Last Dragon is set to debut on Disney Plus as a paid Premier Access title on March 5th, along with Marvel shows The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in March and Loki in May. The company also recently announced dozens of new Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney shows and films planned for the streaming platform for the next several years.