Disney+ Q4 paid subscriber count at 73.7mn; IPL makes Disney+ Hotstar largest contributor

The Walt Disney Company will continue to ramp up investments in Direct To Consumer (DTC) business, said CEO Bob Chapek during the earnings call

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 13, 2020 10:15 AM
Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company will continue to invest heavily in Direct To Consumer (DTC) business, Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, said during an earnings call on Friday.

“We will talk more about this on our investor call next month but we will continue to ramp up our investment in DTC and we will be heavily tilting the scale from linear network to DTC business as we see that as our key source of growth. We are going to talk about this more on December 10,” he said.

The company also mentioned that Disney Plus ended Q4 with 73.7 million paid subscribers wherein Disney Plus Hotstar is the largest contributor to this increase driven by the start of delayed IPL season. Disney+ Hotstar subscribers now account for a little over a quarter of Disney+'s global subscriber base. Roughly 18 million of 73 million global subscribers are from India.

The Walt Disney Company on Friday reported earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended October 3, 2020. The total segment operating income stands at $606 million for Q4, 2020.

Its Diluted Earnings Per Share (EPS) from continuing operations for the fourth quarter was at a loss of $0.39 million compared to the income of $0.43 in the prior-year quarter. Excluding certain items affecting comparability, diluted EPS for the quarter was a loss of $0.20 million compared to income of $1.07 in the prior-year quarter.

Results in the quarter and fiscal year ended October 3, 2020 were adversely impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The most significant impact was at the Parks, Experiences and Products segment where since the second quarter of the fiscal year, our parks and resorts have been closed or operating at significantly reduced capacity and our cruise ship sailings have been suspended.

Direct-to-Consumer & International revenues for the quarter increased 41% to $4.9 billion and segment operating loss decreased from $751 million to $580 million. The decrease in operating loss was primarily due to improved results at Hulu and ESPN+, partially offset by higher costs at Disney+, driven by the ongoing rollout and a decrease at our international channels.

“One year ago we launched Disney Plus and it's quickly exceeded our higher expectations, said Chapek. He further added, “We pulled off the streaming service across 20 countries worldwide. As we end the fourth quarter Disney Plus has recorded more than 73 million paid subscribers in just it's first year and we continue to see the positive trends. The growth of Disney Plus speaks about the strength of our IPs, our unparalleled brands and franchises.”

Chapek expects that the new international launch of Star branded general entertainment offering will enable Disney to grow their business further in a year's ahead. “Given our Direct to Consumer business is key to future growth of our company we restructured our media and entertainment businesses by separating content creation from distribution.”

During the earnings call, speaking about the reorganization that the company announced in October, Chapek said, “I would suggest that, given everything that’s happening in the world, this is the perfect time for us to do a reorganization and I am 100% confident that this is going to play out exactly as we have intended. It’s going extremely well and despite the disruption in everyone’s roles, I think we have 100% buy-in because we have clarity on accountability, which everyone really likes, and we separated out roles to what people tend to do best.”

He further added, “The distribution, who manages the P&L, will set the parameters for annual and long-term budget framework that is then agreed to on the slate with the content creators and then the content creators then green-light the individual projects and shepherd the development and production. So, essentially distribution is now able to optimize the commercialization without maybe too much unnecessary regard for legacy distribution platforms but at the same time, our creatives, who as you know are the best in the world, are really free to do what they do, and that’s make the best content and storytelling possible. A lot of collaboration between the two groups opens up some level of independence in terms of each being what they can be and doing their jobs best.”

Chapek also spoke about India's business and said, “Uday (Uday Shankar) our India’s executive gave indications several months ago that he is moving out. We have got a really deep bench there and we feel that we have all kinds of opportunities and a lot of success so far with Disney Plus and we have no reason to believe that the success won’t continue or accelerate going forward.”

The company will have a next investor meeting on December 10 where they will talk about a detailed investment plan and also the global subscriber numbers.

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