The Walt Disney Co. today announced its Q1 2021 earnings, and with it the news that Disney+ now has 94.9 million subscribers. That's a 232 percent increase year over year, and an increase of 21.2 million since Q4 numbers were announced in November 2020.
“We believe the strategic actions we’re taking to transform our Company will fuel our growth and enhance shareholder value, as demonstrated by the incredible strides we’ve made in our DTC business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter,” Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company, said in the earnings release. “We’re confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content and the upcoming launch of our new Star-branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward.”
The subscriber increase hardly comes as a surprise given that the worldwide rollout of Disney+ has progressed. And look for that growth to continue into 2021 as the Star sub-brand — think content that lives under the Disney umbrella like it does on Hulu in the United States — expands to Disney+ in international markets. That expansion is still scheduled for Feb. 23 in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
We're also about to see price increases for Disney+, however. In the United States, subscriptions will be increasing to $7.99 a month. And the inclusion of Star on Disney+ in Europe and elsewhere will be met with an increase to the equivalent of €8.99 a month for new customers.
At its Investor Day event in December 2020, Disney executives noted higher expenses in content creation, given that it's increasing its investment in original content under its five core brands — Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic. It's also made "a significant incremental investment" in the content that will drive Star and Star+.
And the content isn't slowing down anytime soon, either. The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to crank out hits, with WandaVision noted as a strong success, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier waiting in the wings.
Elsewhere in the greater Disney universe, the company also announced that Hulu now has 39.4 million total subscribers, and 4 million to the its Hulu live TV service, up from 32.5 million total and down about 100,000 for Hulu Live from Q4 2020. And ESPN+ is now at 12.1 million subscribers, up from 11.5 million in December 2020.
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