The Walt Disney Company just announced that its streaming service Disney+ has 26.5 million paying subscribers — ahead of the already impressive 25 million predicted by Wall Street analysts.
(Update: On the earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said the Disney+ subscriber number has grown to 28.6 million as of February 3.)
Disney+ launched on November 12 and is not yet available globally. The day after the launch, the company said the service already had more than 10 million subscribers.
Disney also released subscriber numbers for ESPN+ (6.6 million) and Hulu, where it owns a controlling stake (27.2 million for subscription video on-demand only, 3.2 million for SVOD and live TV, 30.4 million total).
This was all part of the company's earnings for the first quarter of its 2020 fiscal year — its first earnings report since Disney+ launched. So these numbers reflect subscriber counts as of December 28, 2019.
Also worth noting: Someone can be a "paid subscriber" from Disney's perspective without actually paying Disney, thanks to TechCrunch's parent company Verizon providing certain customers with 12 months of Disney+ service for free. Iger confirmed on the earnings call that 20% of subscribers came from Verizon.
"We had a strong first quarter, highlighted by the launch of Disney+, which has exceeded even our greatest expectations,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger in a statement. “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.”
During the quarter, Disney says its direct to consumer and international business (which includes streaming) saw revenue increase from $0.9 billion to $4.0 billion year-over-year, while the unit's operating loss increased from $136 million to $693 million. Disney attributed these growing losses to "costs associated with the launch of Disney+, the consolidation of Hulu and a higher loss at ESPN+."