With a host of exciting new shows to come, Marvel Studios’ schedule is packed. Disney+, the streaming service of the world’s largest entertainment company Disney, already hosts some of the most popular shows (and movies) like “Loki”, “WandaVision”, “The Falcon, and the Winter Soldier”, “Black Widow”, and “What If…?” This has resulted in a massive shift of Marvel fans to the streaming service, and that is evident as Disney+ has exceeded market expectations to record 116 million subscribers as of July 2021, according to its fiscal third-quarter earnings report. Wall Street’s estimation had come to 114.5 million.
Disney+ had 12.4 million new subscribers between April and June, largely on the successes of shows like “Loki” and films like “Luca” and “Cruella”. Its upcoming film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is expected to add to the success of the platform, although it will be released theatrically before appearing on the streaming service.
Expectations were exceeded in terms of revenue as well, as Disney earned $17.02 million against the estimate of $16.76 million, and recorded earnings per share (EPS) of 80 cents, above the estimate of 55 cents. Profit in Q3 came to $923 million.
“These films that we are releasing right now were imagined under a completely different environment than unfortunately, fate has delivered us. But we’re trying to do the best thing for all our constituents and make sure that everybody who is in the value chain, if you will, feels like they’re having their contractual commitments honored both from a distribution and a compensation standpoint,” Disney said.
Disney+ came into prominence after the pandemic prohibited people from going to cinema halls to watch their favorite movies. Taking advantage of the online streaming and OTT sector, the streaming platform grew to be Disney’s outlet for its movie and show releases, leading to passing the 100 million subscriber milestone in 16 months of operations. While growth slowed earlier, Disney+ soon picked up the pace.
The success was evident – Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” earned a staggering $60 million on the streaming service worldwide in its opening weekend alone. This did earn Disney a lawsuit, but that is another story. Overall, revenue for the company’s direct-to-consumer segments has increased by 57% to $4.3 billion while its operating loss declined from $0.6 billion to $0.3 billion, thanks to improved results from Hulu, including subscription growth and higher ad revenues.
“…Our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platform,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said during the earnings call. Hulu and ESPN+ recorded growth ass well – ESPN+ grew by 75% to include 14.9 million subscribers while Hulu grew by 21% to have 42.8 million subscribers. At the end of the day, however, it is Disney+ that turned out to be the greatest success.
Disney+ Hotstar, the Indian version of the platform, has also managed to reach around 46.4 million paid subscribers. This means that now, Hotstar’s contribution to the success of Disney’s streaming aspirations has risen from 30% to 40% in the last 6 months. This has been atrrributed to the IPL season, along with the fact that the platform has also been entering new geographies like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Moreover, it is also expected to launch in the Philippines later in 2021.
“Disney+ Hotstar accounted for the majority of our net subscriber additions between Q2 and Q3, making up a little less than 40 percent of our total Disney+ subscriber base as of the end of the third quarter. However, subscriber growth was also solid at our core Disney+ markets, excluding Disney+ Hotstar, with total quarter-over-quarter net adds in those markets consistent with net adds from Q2. Disney+’s overall ARPU this quarter was $4.16 [roughly Rs. 310].