Posts for 'SVOD'

  • CTV Advertising Likely Played a Big Part in Disney+ Being Bundled With Hulu + Live TV

    Late last week Disney told its Hulu + Live TV subscribers that Disney+ and ESPN+ would be bundled starting Dec. 21st, and that their rate would be increasing by $5 per month. Coming off an anemic fiscal Q4 ’21 in which Disney+ added just 2.1 million subscribers, the lowest by far since launching in late 2019, the intra-company move meant the automatic addition of 4 million Hulu + Live TV subscribers to Disney+’s total in one magical wave of CEO Bob Chapek’s wand.

    I received a number of emails from VideoNuze readers to the effect of “that kind of corporate trickery doesn’t feel like a positive sign for Disney+.” I don’t dispute that there’s merit to that line of thinking, but I’d discount it. The step up in Disney+ subscribers in fiscal Q1 ’22 will be so delineated that it means Wall Street won’t give Disney+ any credit for it because investors are tunnel-visioned on Disney+’s organic growth heading in 2022 (that’s kind of what happens when an SVOD service goes from a standing start to 118 million subscribers in less than two years…expectations become quite high).

    I’d assert that the tunnel vision on Disney+’s growth is causing under appreciation of what may be a far more important driver of Disney’s decision to bundle Disney+: Hulu’s burgeoning opportunity in connected TV advertising.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Can Disney+ Reignite Growth in 2022?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Disney+ now has 118.1 million subscribers, less than 2 years since its launch. But Disney+ added just 2.1 million subscribers in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2021, a huge slowdown from the blistering pace of the past 2 years. This raises the question many investors are asking: can Disney+ reignite growth in 2022, and if so, how? Colin and I explore these questions on this week’s podcast.

    Meanwhile, Hulu keeps chugging along, albeit in the shadow of Disney+. But as we also discuss, Hulu is already likely profitable (at least marginally), but looking out, it is poised to become a genuine profit engine for Disney. That’s because Hulu is one of a handful of scaled, ad-supported services and its Live TV + SVOD services is already generating nearly $85 per month in average revenue per subscriber. As CTV advertising becomes increasingly central to advertisers, Hulu is well-positioned to benefit.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: For Comcast and Peacock, It’s Time to Go Big or Go Home

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On Comcast’s Q3 ’21 earnings call, management was vague about how Peacock is performing. In Corporate America, not highlighting numbers is typically a sign that things are not going as well as hoped and/or the numbers are not as impressive, comparably speaking, as those of competitors. A round of speculation about Peacock’s performance and what might happen next has ensued.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I try to explain what we think is happening. The hard truth for Peacock is that it came to market very late and that it is competing against well-funded and highly aggressive competitors which are spending heavily on originals and on promotions - a commitment that Comcast/NBCUniversal have not publicly committed to match. Another issue - at least relative to Paramount+/Showtime, which gained 4.3 million subscribers in Q3 - is that Peacock doesn’t include NBC’s linear feed, and also doesn’t specialize in mature content, which has a strong draw. These two benefits (and “Star Trek”) have no doubt helped Paramount+/Showtime. Yet another issue is that popular NBC programming continues to be available in Hulu.

    All of these factors, and others, are limiting Peacock’s appeal. As if that wasn’t enough, Comcast has mixed incentives related to Hulu, because it still has a 30% stake that is getting more valuable by the day, as Netflix stock hits new highs. Comcast is financially disincented from harming Hulu by pulling programming to help Peacock (all of this would have been moot if only Comcast had acquired Hulu when it had the chance back in 2018). Comcast has missed out on billions in additional revenue and value creation.

    In short, Comcast/NBCU are now facing a dilemma with Peacock that can be boiled down to: Go Big or Go Home. Either commit to spending what's required to compete effectively (either at the AVOD or SVOD level), or recognize Peacock is going to keep treading water and will likely never break out. It’s a tough decision, but it reflects the penalty late entrants face, especially when squaring off against competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, HBO Max, etc.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: HBO/Max’s 1.8 Million Q3 U.S. Subscriber Loss is Actually a Good Thing

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    HBO / HBO Max lost 1.8 million subscribers in the U.S. in Q3 2021. On the surface that might seem like a bad thing, especially given how hot the streaming business is these days. But as Colin and I discuss, this week, it’s actually a good thing, as it reflects the rolloff of many millions of subscribers who were acquired via a prior distribution deal with Amazon Channels.

    HBO Max has made an intentional decision to focus on a direct-to-consumer strategy, which we think is smart. Back in August, I explained the challenges SVOD services have with third-party distribution, including with Amazon, based on my personal experience subscribing to AMC+ through Amazon.

    After talking to industry colleagues since, I’ve become more skeptical about the long-term value to SVOD services in these deals. So a DTV strategy, especially for a big player like HBO Max, seems like the right one. As we also discuss, it’s also a smart move given HBO Max, as part of WarnerMedia, will be merged into Discovery in 2022.

    Elsewhere in the podcast we talk about the per subscriber value of the ad-supported vs. ad-free business model, and why I think that in the long-term, the former is far greater in a connected TV dominated world with “full funnel” marketing capabilities. We also dig into HBO Max’s decision to have content parity starting in January between its ad-supported and ad-free tiers. Lots to digest.

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  • Why I'm Taking a Break from Watching Netflix

    Yesterday Netflix reported its Q3 2021 earnings results. Ordinarily, as I’ve been doing for many years the day after Netflix’s earnings are released, I would be writing about the results, how many subscribers the company gained or lost, and how I interpreted the numbers.

    Today I’m not going to do any of that. Instead, I’d like to explain why I’ve been taking a break from watching Netflix since last week and why I plan to continue doing so.

    I’ve been writing VideoNuze since 2007. Two weeks ago, as part of a redesign, I took a step back, and observed that I’ve written around 2,500 VideoNuze posts, totaling approximately 2 million words. That’s a lot to say, especially for someone who considers himself an introvert. There have been a lot of times I’ve wanted to share something that might be considered political. Aside from a periodic rant about “net neutrality,” I’ve been pretty disciplined and not done so. I have enough outlets in my life to discuss politics and my world views, and I know these aren’t the things busy people who read VideoNuze read it for.

    But today I’m making an exception.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Google Fiber TV is Retired, Linear TV Ratings Fall, SVOD Churn is Stable and Much More

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Rather than focus on just one story this week as we usually do, today we do segments on 5 different stories that caught our attention. First we pick up on last week’s podcast about the dustup between YouTube TV and NBCUniversal. The companies avoided going over the cliff together and managed to extend their relationship. But it is a harbinger of more fights between networks and virtual (and traditional) pay-TV operators as the size of the pie continues to shrink due to cord-cutting.

    Then Colin and I have a spirited debate about Google’s Fiber TV, which is being retired, and the broader question of whether Google Fiber’s 1 gigabit per second broadband service is a worthwhile product offering (Colin thinks it is and I think it isn’t, and I haven’t since it launched way back in February, 2010, see “Google’s Fiber-to-the-Home Experiment Could Cost $750 Million or More.” Also see "Google Fiber is Out of Synch With Realities of Typical Consumer Technology Adoption" from July, 2012 and "No Surprise, Google Fiber is Falling Short of Expectations" from August, 2016.)

    From there we discuss the steep drop in L7 TV ratings that has continued in the first week of this Fall season. But even at these depressed levels, I assert that the most popular broadcast TV shows like “NCIS” still draw audiences that may likely be bigger than the first 7 days following the drop of a popular show on a big SVOD service like Netflix. Related, we discuss new Kantar data on SVOD churn in Q2. For more insight, have a look at my post from November, 2019, “Will Spinning Video Subscriptions Become a Thing?”

    Finally, there’s a game of musical chairs happening in our industry and this week’s move by Kelly Campbell from president of Hulu to president of Peacock is just the latest example. We discuss why these executives’ shuffling matters to all of us as consumers.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Does it Really Make Sense for AMC+ to Partner With Amazon Channels?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast we dig into my post from earlier this week about my experience starting a 7-day free trial to the SVOD service AMC+ using Amazon Channels. I did this in order to watch the movie “A Few Good Men” with extended family last weekend.

    While the sign-up process was very easy, the issue is that neither AMC+ nor Amazon has done anything to try converting me from trial to paid subscriber by explaining the service’s content value. In fact, when I tried cancelling the first time, they did the opposite, offering me a new discount if I stayed on for another two months.

    Colin and I explore the bind that small to mid-size SVOD services find themselves in with Amazon Channels and other big platforms. On the one hand, the platforms are huge potential sources of trial subscribers. On the other hand, if the SVOD service has virtually no insight about their trial subscribers, can’t connect with them to directly promote content and the platform itself does nothing to convert subscribers from trial, is there really any long-term value being created for the SVOD service, or is it just churning through viewers?

    These are tricky questions without clear answers. But they have huge implications for SVOD services and the platforms going forward. Learn more now!

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  • AMC+ on Amazon Channels Highlights Challenges of Third-Party SVOD Distribution

    VideoNuze readers know that I’ve long been bullish on Amazon Channels, the program Amazon provides to distribute SVOD services. Amazon offers these services access to its massive audience and comprehensive delivery infrastructure, while retaining a share of the monthly subscription revenue for itself. For SVOD services, Amazon Channels is an attractive and highly tempting way to quickly scale up their subscriber base. For Amazon, it’s yet another way to bolster its presence in the media business, generate high-margin revenue and leverage its reach and tech capabilities.

    But an experience I’ve had over the past few days has highlighted the execution challenges SVOD services encounter when partnering with Amazon Channels and more broadly, the downside of third-party distributor relationships at a time when building direct-to-consumer bonds is more important than ever.

    On the last night of vacation this past Friday with extended family, we decided to watch “A Few Good Men” after dinner. A quick search revealed it was available on AMC+ which itself could be subscribed to either directly or through Amazon Channels. I chose the latter route (why not, Amazon already has my credit card, etc.). With a couple clicks on the Roku TV, I started my 7-day free trial to AMC+ and we were watching the movie. Easy, easy.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: FandangoNow and Vudu Merge In Wake of SVOD Crushing TVOD

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Earlier this week the FandangoNow and Vudu movie and TV VOD (“TVOD”) rental sites merged. Colin notes that the move didn’t register on many industry executives’ radar (certainly nowhere near the biggest deal of the week, Blackstone’s acquisition of a majority of Hello Sunshine for $900 million). The tiny ripple FandangoNow-Vudu caused isn’t surprising given the sub 5% market share the two sites jointly have.

    The far bigger story here, which we explore on this week’s podcast, is the tremendous shift in consumer preferences from buying and/or renting movies/TV shows via TVOD sites, to renting access through SVOD services. Indeed, Colin cites data that the market for buying/renting has collapsed by 50% over the past 6 years. Meantime SVOD has skyrocketed. Simply put, SVOD has crushed TVOD.

    Note this shift isn’t just confined to video. The late Steve Jobs long insisted that consumers wanted to own, not rent, their music, going so far as to say in his famous 2003 Rolling Stone interview “I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful.” Sorry Steve….in its Q2 earnings report, Spotify alone said it had 365 million monthly active users at the end of Q2, with 165 million of them paying a monthly subscription fee. Apple Music likely has MORE subscribers than that, and the services business is Apple’s most important growth segment. Then there’s YouTube, Amazon and many others.

    Sometimes even the greats get things terribly wrong.

    Be that as it may, Colin and I explore what all of this means to the future of the purchase/rental model and SVOD. Lurking in the wings as another disruptor is AVOD. As Colin notes, Q2 advertising at Tubi, Pluto and Roku was once again off the charts. As the Hello Sunshine team would surely attest, consumer preferences in video are far from settled.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix Q2 2021 Earnings - Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Focus?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Netflix reported its Q2 2021 earnings this week, and considering the most critical metric of U.S. and Canada subscriber additions/losses, the company did very well. Sure, it lost 430K subscribers, reversing a big Q2 2020 Covid gain, and also tripled its 130K loss from Q2 2019. But it could have been a whole lot worse if post-Covid churn had spiked which would have sent Wall Street into a tizzy.

    After reviewing the numbers, Colin and I zero in on the fact that while Netflix has numerous revenue expansion opportunities, it seems uninterested in any of them. In fact, the theme of this quarter’s earnings conference call was Netflix’s 100% focus on SVOD. It has no plans to make money from its new video gaming service. Live sports is still mainly off the table. The new commerce extension won’t generate anything material. And a lower-priced advertising-supported tier? Well the analyst/moderator didn’t even ask about it.

    Colin and I are really scratching our heads. It’s like Netflix’s management took a sacred oath: “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.”

    For my part I’m growing weary of these “religious” responses. I have been doggedly saying Netflix needs to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier for ages. The CTV ad business in the U.S. alone in 2021 will be $13B, going to at least $28B in 2025. As the biggest player in brand-safe streaming, Netflix has an automatic claim on a portion of this revenue. Perhaps most important, there is simply no other catalyst as sizable for Netflix’s top and bottom lines. But it won’t entertain the option, asserting in the past that it will diminish the user experience, though it hasn’t provided any meaningful backup to support its position.

    There’s a lot to be said for staying focused, but in our view, this is getting a little bit ridiculous.

    Please let us know what you think!

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  • Netflix Q2 2021 Earnings Report: Whew!

    If you detected the wind pattern figuratively shift around 4:01pm Eastern Time yesterday, you weren’t imaging it. Rather, the shift was due to the collective exhaling of Netflix stockholders who were justifiably on edge about the company’s Q2 2021 earnings report, and in particular its subscriber additions, especially in the all-important UCAN (United States and Canada) region.

    Q2 2021 was the first quarter to be comp’d against a full Covid quarter, Q2 2020. It is old news that Covid created many major distortions in the economy, but perhaps the biggest distortion (aside from the bizarre run on toilet paper) was the massive acceleration in streaming and connected TV. And few companies benefited more from shelter-in-place orders than Netflix, which in Q2 2020 gained over 10 million global subscribers, on top of the 15.8 million it added in Q1 2020.

    To say that first half 2020 would be a tough act to follow in UCAN would definitely qualify for the understatement of the year award. Netflix said last year that it was experiencing a “pull forward” in demand. Results in Q1 2021 began bearing that out with global subscriber additions coming in at 3.98 million, obviously way down from the freakish first quarter of 2020, but also just a fraction of the 9.6 million global subs that Netflix pulled in back in Q1 2019.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Parsing the “Black Widow” Numbers Even Further

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin and I parse Disney’s “Black Widow” opening weekend numbers, building on my analysis from yesterday. We agree that it is premature to extrapolate much from “Black Widow” and anyone doing so is on slippery ground. On the one hand, Disney getting 45% of its opening weekend from Disney+ PVOD is very impressive; on the other hand, it is far from definitive proof that streaming’s role will be robust in the first release window going forward.

    The backdrop to all of this is of course consumers’ decision-making about whether to stay home and watch any of the myriad streaming originals available in the current “Peak TV” era, or choose to return to the theater. Inevitably, we observe the sizable role that quality plays in this decision-making process. Sadly, streaming TV and movies are going in completely opposite directions on this front, with the former getting relentlessly better and the latter getting relentlessly worse. I believe this alone is a key contributor to consumers choosing to stay home, as I wrote last week in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise.”

    Please let us know what you think!

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  • If the FTC Challenges Amazon-MGM Deal It is Unlikely to Succeed

    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the FTC will be the agency to review Amazon’s acquisition of MGM. A review was expected, either by the Justice Department or the FTC. The plot thickener here is that the brand new FTC chair is Lina Khan, a law professor and journalist who was confirmed by the Senate last week in a bipartisan 69-29 vote. Importantly Khan is a critic of Amazon and Big Tech, having written a widely circulated article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” in 2017.

    The article argues, in a nutshell, that the current approach to antitrust, which is focused on “consumer welfare,” is insufficient to oversee platform-based businesses like Amazon which can use predatory pricing for their overall competitive benefit. Rather, Khan believes that antitrust oversight needs to be driven by gauging the concentration of market structures and competitive process, which she writes is a more traditional approach. Khan shares five factors for how to evaluate the competitive process.

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  • Paramount+: A Chip Off the ViacomCBS Block

    More than two months since its launch, it’s no secret where the new kid on the SVOD block, ViacomCBS’s Paramount+, is getting its programming persona: directly from its parent company.

    Of the more than 30,000 unique television episodes available from the successor to CBS All Access at its early March launch, some 25,000, or close to 84%, were sourced from the ViacomCBS vaults.

    And why not? With ownership of iconic pop culture brands like MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central (not to mention CBS itself), ViacomCBS possesses an enviable content pedigree that gives the two-tiered streaming service immediate marquee value.

    A deep dive into the Paramount+ offering quantifies how ViacomCBS has populated a deep streaming offering. A One Touch Intelligence VODTRAK® audit from March 2021 yielded this top-line breakdown of the content ViacomCBS’s own brands have contributed (approximate number of titles in 000s):

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With Deloitte’s Vice Chairman Kevin Westcott

    Welcome to Inside the Stream, the weekly podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Deloitte recently released the 15th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey, and this week we’re pleased to have Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and leader of its telecom, media and entertainment group join us to discuss key findings.

    The survey shows that SVOD churn has doubled, with many viewers binging hit content and then churning out. Kevin believes services need to focus on retention, adding non-video content (e.g. music, games, audio, etc.) to become more compelling and perhaps most important, offering lower-priced, ad-supported tiers.

    Many like Hulu, Peacock and Paramount+ already have these tiers and HBO Max intends to introduce one. We discuss why others like Netflix and Disney+ are resistant and the implications.

    Kevin speaks at length about the role AVOD services are playing, and especially how different age groups relate to advertising. He notes that for younger viewers, gaming is now their preferred media, with watching TV shows and movies falling to number five.

    These are just a few of the subjects we discuss during the wide-ranging interview.

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  • Report: SVOD Market Fragments Following New Service Launches

    The U.S. SVOD market has undergone significant fragmentation over the past two years as new services have launched, according to the Q1 2021 Growth Report from Antenna, an SVOD insights provider. In Q1 ’19, Netflix and Hulu together accounted for over three-quarters (78%) of all SVOD subscriptions. But two years later, in Q1 ’21, their combined share fell to just over half (51%), with Disney taking 17%, HBO Max 11%, Paramount+ 7%, Starz 6%, Showtime 4% and discovery+, Peacock and Apple TV+ all at 2%.

    Antenna didn’t report Amazon Prime Video numbers. Amazon said in its Q1 ’21 earnings report that 175 million Prime members have streamed TV shows and movies in the past year, though it didn’t provide any breakdown of U.S. share vs. rest of world.

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  • Streaming Watch Parties Attract 25 Million U.S. Adults During Pandemic

    Twenty five million U.S. adults participated in streaming watch parties in the past year, according to new research from The Diffusion Group. A watch party is when two or more viewers co-watch synched, on demand video with others outside their homes using any screen connected to the Internet and use social features while watching. TDG surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults over age 18 who use an SVOD service. If under 18 year-olds were surveyed as well the total number of watch party users would no doubt further increase.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #553: Should Netflix Crackdown on Password Sharing or Consider an Ad Model?

    Welcome to the 553rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I explore whether Netflix should pursue a crackdown on subscribers sharing their passwords (as it’s doing in a trial) or if it should consider launching a lower-priced, advertising support tier, or if it should do both.

    Earlier this week Colin shared thoughts about the potential consequences of policing passwords and I wrote about the benefits of offering subscribers more pricing flexibility as other streaming services do already. On today’s podcast we dig deeper into both of these approaches and agree an action plan will become more urgent if there’s a fall in U.S. subscribers in the first or second quarter this year.
     
    Listen in to learn more!

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  • Revisiting Why Netflix Should Launch an Ad-Supported Tier

    Back in December, 2019, before the pandemic upended everything, I speculated that Netflix would launch an ad-supported tier in 2020. Subscriber growth in the U.S. was slowing in 2019 and there was reason to believe that in Q1 ’20 Netflix might lose subscribers in its UCAN (U.S. + Canada) region.

    A lower-priced ad-supported tier would have multiple benefits: reducing churn, revenue growth/diversification by tapping into the white hot connected TV ad market, a way to compete with new lower-priced streaming entrants, new growth story for investors, etc. The key challenge was that Netflix had for years said it had no interest in an ad-supported tier; it wanted to stick to its ad-free brand identity and user experience.

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  • 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.

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