The Walt Disney Company’s Disney+ streaming service has amassed nearly 95 million paid subscribers, an impressive feat that has helped offset losses in other sectors of the brand, as shown in its earnings report for its first fiscal quarter ended January 2, 2021.
While the pandemic has brutally affected some segments of The Walt Disney Company’s business (its parks, experiences and products division, which plummeted 53% year-on-year), its impact on other divisions — most notably, its DTC offerings — has been decidedly kinder.
The report revealed that overall revenues for its media and entertainment distribution unit fell 5%. Revenues for the division came to US$12.7 billion in Q1, down from $13.3 billion in the year ago quarter, despite gains in direct-to-consumer (DTC) revenue. In Q1, DTC revenue jumped 73% to $3.5 billion, up from $2 billion in Q1 2020.
As the pandemic continues to influence consumer uptake of home entertainment options, Disney+ wasn’t the only streaming service under the Walt Disney umbrella that saw growth. ESPN+ saw an 83% growth with 12.1 million subscribers compared to 6.6 million in December 2019, and Hulu’s SVOD grew from 27.2 million subs at the end of 2019 to 35.4 million this quarter, a 30% increase.
“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,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company in a statement. “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.”
Among its unscripted and non-fiction offerings, Disney+ has slated reality-based originals such as Shop Class and Encore among others and also, via National Geographic and its own originals department, offers to subscribers such documentary features and series as Free Solo and The Imagineering Story.