May 13, 2021
The Walt Disney Co. May 13 reported that its branded SVOD platform Disney+ topped 103.6 million subscribers through April 3. That compared with 33.5 million subs through the previous-year second quarter, ended March 28, 2020. Disney+ topped 100 million subs through March 9. Wall Street had expected Disney+ to reach 110 million.
ESPN+ grew subscriptions 75% to 13.8 million from 7.9 million, while Hulu upped subs 31% to 37.8 million from 28.8 million last year. Hulu with Live TV saw its industry-leading online TV subs increase 15% to 3.8 million from 3.3 million.
Direct-to-consumer revenues for the quarter increased 59% to $4 billion and operating loss decreased from $800 million to $300 million. The decrease in operating loss was due to improved results at Hulu and to a lesser extent at ESPN+.
The increase at Hulu was due to subscription revenue growth and higher advertising revenue, partially offset by an increase in programming and production costs driven by higher subscriber-based fees for programming the live television service. Subscription revenue growth was due to an increase in subscribers and, to a lesser extent, higher rates driven by an increase in retail pricing for the Hulu Live TV+ SVOD service in December 2020. Higher advertising revenue was due to increased impressions.
The improvement at ESPN+ was driven by subscriber growth and higher income from Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view events.
Results at Disney+ were comparable to the prior-year quarter as an increase in subscribers was largely offset by higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs. The increase in subscribers and costs reflected the ongoing expansion of Disney+ worldwide.