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Disney+ growth slowed in fourth quarter, but new markets are opening up

Disney+ added just 2.1 million subscribers in the three months leading up to October 2, 2021, the company reported in its fiscal fourth-quarter 2021 earnings, taking it to 118.1 million subscribers worldwide. That’s still a 60% increase year-over-year, however, and includes subscribers to the international Disney+ Hotstar and Star+ services.

For context, Netflix last reported 209.18 million paid subscribers as of July 20, 2021.

Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., tried to keep things in perspective on the earnings call that followed the release. “We remain focused managing our [direct-to-consumer] service [Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu] for the long term, not quarter to quarter.”

Disney+ on a TV.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

And there’s still growth to be had. Disney+ is poised to launch in South Korea and Taiwan on Friday, November 12 — Disney+ Day, which marks the 2-year anniversary of the launch of the service. And it’ll be available November 16 in Hong Kong. Chapek noted that Disney+ is now available in some 60 countries and in more than 20 languages.

“Next year, we plan to bring Disney+ to consumers in 50-plus additional countries,” Chapek said, “including Central Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.”

Elsewhere, other Disney-owned streaming services saw growth in the quarter. ESPN+ is up to 17.1 million paid subscribers, after adding about 100,000 more subs than Disney+ did for the quarter. The Hulu on-demand service added about 600,000 subscribers to stand at 39.7 million subs and saw its seventh straight quarter of growth since Disney took the reins. And Hulu With Live TV clawed its way back to 4 million subscribers after three straight quarters of losses.

“As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of Disney+,” Chapek said in the earnings release, “we’re extremely pleased with the success of our streaming business, with 179 million total subscriptions across our DTC portfolio at the end of fiscal 2021 and 60% subscriber growth year-over-year for Disney+. We continue to manage our DTC business for the long-term, and are confident that our high-quality entertainment and expansion into additional markets worldwide will enable us to further grow our streaming platforms globally.”

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