Factual content giant Discovery Inc. is “on pace” to have 12 million paying subscribers to its assorted international DTC services, with the company currently having surpassed 11 million subs globally.
The stats are part of Discovery’s fourth quarter and full year 2020 financial results, announced this morning (Feb. 22).
Buoyed by the launch of Discovery+ in the U.S. on Jan. 4 of this year, the numbers represent a gain of approximately 7 million subs since December of last year, when the company, during an Investor Day to announce the Discovery+ launch, said it had 5.2 million subscribers for its various services around the world.
The streaming news accompanied an earnings report that has generally met the approval of Wall Street by surpassing estimates. With “flat” being the new “up” in the current COVID-19-impacted economic climate, news that U.S. ad revenues were flat and that total revenues of close to US$2.9 billion were flat compared to the prior-year quarter came in just above forecasts.
Diluted earnings per share, meanwhile, came in at 76 cents, down 22% from the year prior but also still ahead of estimates.
The company saw a substantial decrease in free cash flow, however, to $441 million from $1.1 billion year on year, which Discovery said was “primarily attributable to lower operating results due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on Adjusted OIBDA, the timing of cash content spend (including sports rights payments), taxes, and working capital.”
For international networks in the full year report, advertising revenue decreased by 12% “primarily driven by a decline in demand stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the discontinuation of pay-TV distribution with certain European operators.” For the fourth quarter of 2020, meanwhile, the division saw a 1% decrease in ad revenue and total revenues compared to the year prior.
“2020 was a year of change, challenge, and opportunity, and our company has shown incredible resilience, creativity and focus as one global team,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav (pictured) in a statement. “We finished with strong operating momentum and great command and control across our global businesses, uniquely positioning us to balance our core and next generation businesses. We are off to a promising start in 2021 with the successful launch of discovery+. We have now surpassed 11 million total paying direct-to-consumer subscribers globally and are on pace to be at 12 million by the end of the month, underscoring the value of the investments we’ve made in content, beloved personalities and brands with huge consumer appeal, supported by industry-leading DTC capabilities.
“Our unmatched global scale and ability to serve consumers everywhere with a truly differentiated offering across platforms, as well as our robust cash flows, even amidst the significant investments in our next generation initiatives and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, position us to achieve sustainable long-term growth and drive long-term shareholder value,” he added.
Discovery stock hit a 52-week high last week, coming in at more than $50 per share.