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The Disney+ Marvel website home screen on a laptop computer in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Monday, July 18, 2022.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The biggest companies in media and entertainment are telling investors to focus on revenue and profit instead of streaming subscriber growth — that message backfired on Disney Tuesday.
Disney added 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers and 14.6 million total direct-to-consumer customers in its fiscal fourth quarter. Both numbers surpassed most analyst estimates and blew away quarterly additions from Netflix, which gained just 2.4 million new subscribers in the quarter.
A year ago, the robust streaming growth numbers may have pushed Disney shares higher. But media and entertainment executives are pushing investors to value their companies on profit and revenue instead of purely subscriber growth. And those numbers weren’t kind to Disney this quarter.
Disney shares fell 6% after hours.
Total quarterly Disney revenue of $20.1 billion missed the average analyst estimate by nearly $1 billion, based on Refinitv consensus estimates. Net operating losses in Disney’s streaming division, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, ballooned to $1.47 billion in the quarter. That’s more than double the loss from a year ago, which Disney partially blamed on the lack of “premier access” content, or theatrically released films for which Disney charged an extra $30 to stream, such as “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise.”
Disney said it expects this quarter to be the nadir for streaming losses, and it reaffirmed profitability is coming.
“We expect our DTC operating losses to narrow going forward and that Disney+ will still achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek said in a statement.
Disney is launching its advertising-supported tier for $7.99 per month on Dec. 8. The company announced significant price increases that will also kick in next month. Both measures are being put in place to jumpstart revenue and profit rather than subscriber growth.
But this quarter, Disney found itself caught in between a prior narrative of subscriber growth and a present and future story about business fundamentals. And investors weren’t forgiving.
WATCH: Disney earnings reaction