Walt Disney’s Disney + streaming service now has over 50 million paid subscribers around the world, the company said on Wednesday. It underlines the broad appeal of Disney’s franchises—Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and more—and its ability to heavily market Disney+ to audiences across the globe.
Disney stock (ticker: DIS) jumped 7% in after-hours trading Wednesday. The shares were down 32% in 2020 through Wednesday’s close, versus a 15% year-to-date decline for the S&P 500 and 18% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Disney+ launched in the U.S. on Nov. 12, and Disney revealed that it had received 10 million sign-ups for the service in the first day of launching. When Disney released its fiscal first-quarter 2020 earnings in early February, the company said it had 28.6 million users.
Disney’s other streaming services—Hulu and ESPN+—had 37 million users combined at the end of 2019, the last moment for which Disney disclosed numbers. By comparison, Netflix (NFLX) finished 2019 with 167 million subscribers worldwide, including 61 million in the U.S.
International subscriber growth appears to have contributed a fair amount of the push to 50 million for Disney+. The streaming service is now available in over a dozen countries, including most of Western Europe. Disney said Wednesday that about 8 million subscribers are in India alone, where the service launched last week and is offered in a package with the popular Hotstar—which Disney acquired along with the majority of then-21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets as part of a massive deal last year.
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“We’re truly humbled that Disney+ is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year,” Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney direct-to-consumer unit, said in a statement. “Great storytelling inspires and uplifts, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to deliver a vast array of great entertainment rooted in joy and optimism on Disney+.”
Fifty million subscribers in five months is good news for Disney for sure. But it won’t come close to saving the media and entertainment giant’s 2020.
Disney is facing pressure from practically all sides thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Movie theaters are closed around the world, delaying new film releases. Companies pulling back on spending are slashing their advertising budgets, hitting Disney’s networks. ESPN in particular is hurting, without live sports to broadcast. Theme parks like Disneyland are closed, and Disney’s cruises aren’t operating.
All those new subscribers won’t help offset losses in other divisions—they’re not yet profitable for Disney.
Disney+ costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 annually, about half the cost of Netflix. It includes new and library titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Write to Nicholas Jasinski at firstname.lastname@example.org