• Disney+ Tops 100 Million Subscribers; ESPN+ Content to be Available in Hulu

    Disney+ now has over 100 million subscribers, just 16 months since launching. The update was provided by Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company in his remarks at the annual shareholder meeting this afternoon.

    The growth of Disney+ since its launch has been meteoric: 10 million at the end of launch day on November 19, 2019, 28.6 million in February, 2020, 50 million in April, 2020, 73.7 million in September, 2020 and 86.8 million in December, 2020. The most recent update Disney provided was 94.9 million subscribers as of January 2, 2021.

    Disney’s initial forecast for Disney+ of 60-90 million subscribers by 2024 obviously undershot demand significantly, though a huge variable has been viewership changes brought on by Covid. Disney has since revised its forecast to 230-260 million global subscribers by 2024.

    At the meeting, Chapek said that the direct-to-consumer business (Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, etc.) is now the company’s “top priority” and it has accelerated its “pivot to a DTC-first business model.” Chapek said Disney+’s success has “inspired us to be even more ambitious and significantly increase investment in high quality content.” Disney has set a goal of 100+ new titles per year across its portfolio of Disney Animation, Live Action, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

    Chapek also announced that starting tomorrow all ESPN+ content will be available within the Hulu interface for subscribers, and that beginning this summer ESPN+ subscribers will be able to purchase ESPN+ pay-per-view events within Hulu and watch them there. Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ are currently bundled for $12.99 per month though the price is increasing to $13.99 per month starting March 26th, when Disney+ standalone will increase to $7.99 per month.

    A recording of the shareholders meeting is available here. Chapek’s comments about Disney+ and the DTC business start at the 21 minute, 25 second point.