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ESPN+ passes 17.1m subs as Disney streaming revenue hits US$16.3bn for 2021

Disney now has 179m subscribers across its DTC portfolio.

11 November 2021 Ed Dixon

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  • DTC losses rise to US$600m for Q4
  • Disney sees total quarterly revenue increase 26% YoY to US$18.5bn
  • CEO Bob Chapek “confident” in streaming platforms, despite Disney+ subscriber growth falling short

Disney’s ESPN+ streaming service saw its total number of paid subscribers reach 17.1 million, a year-on-year (YoY) rise of 66 per cent, according to the media giant’s full year earnings report for 2021.

Average monthly revenue per paid ESPN+ subscriber for the fourth quarter came to US$4.74, up four per cent on the same period last year.

Subscribers to Disney+ grew 60 per cent YoY to 118.1 million. However, the service’s growth was down on previous estimates, adding only 2.1 million subscribers for Q4, having brought in 12.6 million new users during the previous quarter. Hulu, the other streaming platform in the Disney portfolio, saw its subscribers increase 20 per cent to 43.8 million for the quarter.

Overall, Disney’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) revenue for Q4 increased 38 per cent to US$4.6 billion. However, Disney said operating losses increased from US$400 million to US$600 million due to higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs.

Disney’s media and entertainment division saw its revenue increase nine per cent YoY to US$13.1 billion in Q4. US$6.7 billion of that came from its linear networks, which saw revenue fall four per cent. Operating income was down 39 per cent to US$947 million.

Disney’s total revenue for Q4 stood at US$18.5 billion, up 26% YoY, with operating income leaping 162 per cent to US$1.59 billion, largely thanks to a 99 per cent revenue increase in its parks, experiences and products segment to US$5.5 billion.

For the 2021 fiscal year, Disney’s DTC revenue was up 55% YoY to US$16.3 billion, with total losses coming in at US$1.68 billion, which was down 42 per cent on 2020.

The company’s full media and entertainment division revenue for the year was up five per cent YoY to US$50.9 billion, with operating income down the same percentage at US$7.3 billion.

“As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of Disney+, we’re extremely pleased with the success of our streaming business, with 179 million total subscriptions across our DTC portfolio at the end of fiscal 2021 and 60 per cent subscriber growth year-over-year for Disney+,” said Bob Chapek, Disney chief executive.

“We continue to manage our DTC business for the long-term, and are confident that our high-quality entertainment and expansion into additional markets worldwide will enable us to further grow our streaming platforms globally.”

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