Walt Disney defied concerns about a slowdown in the streaming industry by adding 14.4mn new subscribers to its Disney Plus service in the third quarter, pushing its total number of paying streaming customers to 221mn — slightly ahead of Netflix.
But Disney reduced its long-term guidance for its total number of Disney Plus subscribers due to its recent loss of rights to stream IPL cricket in India. Instead of reaching as many as 260mn total subscribers by 2024, company officials now expect Disney Plus to hit 245mn.
Perhaps most important to investors, however, Disney stood by its goal of reaching profitability at its Disney Plus streaming service by 2024. While Wall Street once cheered on as Disney and its rivals spent heavily on new streaming content to attract new subscribers, investors are now focused how the companies will reach profitability.
To help reach that goal, Disney said on Wednesday that it would raise the price of its streaming services — which include Hulu and ESPN — in the US later this year. The price hikes will go into effect as it rolls out ad-supported versions of its streaming services in December. Netflix has also announced plans for an ad-supported service in hopes of luring more cost-conscious consumers.
The new details came as Disney reported strong third-quarter results, thanks in part to booming attendance at its theme parks in the US and Paris, where attendance has topped-pre-pandemic levels despite rising inflation.
Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, said the strong park results was due in part to “pent up demand”, but he added that the rebound is “far more resilient and far more long-lasting” than a short-term bounceback from the pandemic.