Disney Plus Loses Cash Fast, Even as It Adds Subscribers

7.9 million customers sign up in the latest quarter
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2022 6:47 PM CDT
Disney Plus Adds Subscribers, Even as It Goes Through Cash
The Disney streaming log-in screen is displayed on a television last August.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Walt Disney Co.'s earnings report showed its streaming business has avoided the problems that have befallen Netflix and CNN+. Disney Plus signed up another 7.9 million subscribers during the first three months of 2022, the Verge reports. Among all of its streaming services, which include ESPN Plus and Hulu, the company said it now counts more than 205 million subscribers, up from the 196.4 million it reported in January. It's well ahead of HBO and HBO Max, for example, which added 3 million subscribers, for a total of around 77 million. But, for Disney, there's a catch. Disney Plus losses are accelerating.

The company blames rising costs for production, technology, and advertising, and Disney doesn't expect those expenses to stop climbing. Losing money but trying to make it up in volume isn't a business model that appeals to the company, and Netflix showed that raising prices can stunt subscriber growth. So Disney is looking at starting an advertising-supported Disney+ plan that will be priced lower than the current, ad-free offering. That should arrive later this year, per the Wall Street Journal. In the meantime, Disney plans new movie and TV programming to attract subscribers. The report issued Wednesday included quarterly earnings of $470 million, a drop from $901 million the year before, and revenue of $19.25 billion, up from $15.61 billion. (Read more Walt Disney Co. stories.)

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