Walt Disney Co’s new streaming service Disney+ reached 28.6 million paying subscribers this week, the company said on Tuesday as it reported quarterly earnings.
The results prove that Disney made a strong entrance into the streaming video wars dominated by Netflix Inc. Thecompany is trying to transform its business to capture audiences that are moving online.
Disney+, which is available in five countries including the United States, will be available in India on March 29 through streaming service Hotstar.
Netflix, which began delivering online video 13 years ago, boasts 67.7 million paid subscribers in the United States and Canada.
Subscribers at Hulu, a streaming service Disney now controls, climbed to 30.7 million as of Monday, the company said. ESPN+ customers reached 7.6 million this week.
"We had a strong first quarter, highlighted by the launch of Disney+, which has exceeded even our greatest expectations,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Thanks to our incredible collection of brands, outstanding content from our creative engines and state-of-the-art technology, we believe our direct-to-consumer services, including Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, position us well for continued growth in today’s dynamic media environment.”
Excluding certain items, Disney earned $1.53 per share during its first fiscal quarter ended December 28, 2019. Revenue rose to $20.9 billion, up 36% from a year earlier.
Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment, the division that is spending big to build the streaming business, reported an operating loss of $693 million, below analyst expectations.
Operating income in Disney’s media unit, home to ESPN, the Disney Channels and ABC, rose 23% to $1.6 billion.
Profit more than tripled at the movie studio to $948 million.