Disney gains Disney+ subscribers, but the service is operating at a loss

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The entertainment landscape is fluid, and the delivery of its wares has also been shifting over the past 10-years. Netflix changed the game when it started offering streaming services, and since then, the streaming landscape has grown substantially. Disney jumped into the waters in late 2019 with Disney+, and they invested a lot of money in the popularity of streaming.

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Disney gained 8 million subscribers this quarter; good news for them, but they’re also still operating the platform at a loss. The company has gained ground on Netflix, and Netflix is actually losing subscribers, but other streaming services are also in the water, competing for the same eyes.

Cue new-ish Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who also crowed that, taken together, all of Disney’s streaming services now have a total of 205 million subscribers. Which sounds like a lot, until you remember that Netflix—poor, humiliated Netflix—has somewhere in the neighborhood of 222 million, which, even with recent dips, are consolidated into a single service, instead of being split between Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN.

Digging into the report, we learn that Disney+ itself—including domestic and international subscribers, and users of Hotstar (which operates out of India and serves Disney+ content to a number of Southeast Asian countries where the regular service doesn’t operate)—totals 137.7 million subscribers. In the U.S. and Canada, that number is just 44.4 million, still 30 million less than what Netflix sports domestically.


Now, Disney has deep pockets, so we don’t think Disney+ will shut down or disappear anytime soon. Streaming is still the future, but it is getting fragmented heavily, with studios opting for their own services. The real question is; will users want to continue paying for multiple streaming services that cost them more than what cable did previously? Only the market can tell, and only those with deep pockets may be able to survive.

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