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Disney revenue up as SVOD hits 28.6 million subs

The House of Mouse's Q1 revenue has jumped 36% to US$20.8 billion, driven by gains in the Studios and DTC segments.
February 5, 2020

The House of Mouse is standing tall as its overall revenue for Q1 2020 jumped 36% compared to the same period last year, to US$20.8 billion, driven by growth in its direct-to-consumer segment.

Streaming has become a major money-maker for the media conglom, and Disney’s DTC business climbed up to US$4 billion, up from US$900 million in Q1 2018, due primarily by the launch of Disney+ last November, and its acquisition of a controlling interest in Hulu.

On Tuesday, Disney unveiled Disney+ has racked up 28.6 million paid subscribers since its launch (the streamer had reached 26.5 million by December 28—the last day of its Q1). ESPN+ has climbed to 7.6 million (6.6 million in Q1, up from 1.4 million by December 28) while Hulu has also jumped to 30.7 million (30.4 million subs in Q1, up from 22.8 year-over-year).

Disney+ is earning US$5.56 a month from every paid subscriber, while Hulu’s SVOD and live TV services put together are earning a combined US$59.47 a month. Disney+ launched in the US, Canada and the Netherlands November 12, then bowed  in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico a week later. The streamer had more than 10 million subscribers on its first day, according to Disney.

It will launch on March 24 across Western Europe, including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, and in India as well on March 29 through Hotstar, according to CEO Bob Iger. Additional Western European markets, including Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal will bow this summer.

The media giant plans to keep growing Disney+ with new original content, including the Marvel series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in August, and WandaVision in December. Season two of Star Wars title The Mandalorian (pictured) will launch in October.

Also detailed in the quarterly report, Disney saved US$150 million through consolidation layoffs following its Fox acquisition, and its revenues were up across all segments with media networks (ABC, Nat Geo and ESPN) posting a 24% increase to US$7.3 billion, driven by an increase in contractual rates. Its parks, experiences and products business grew 8% to US$7.4 billion thanks to higher sales for its Frozen, Star Wars and Toy Story brands, while the new park extension Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge drove park growth as well.

Disney’s studio entertainment revenues were also up to US$3.8 billion, from US$1.8 billion, because of the theatrical success of blockbusters Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as Disney’s own sales to Disney+, which were partially offset by a decrease in pay TV sales to third parties.

This quarter continues the growth of last year’s Q1, which included a line for its DTC business for the first time. In Q1 2019, Disney posted an overall revenue of US$15.3 billion, a flat result compared to the year before, but at the time, still beat analysts’ forecasts for the period.

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