Disney Swears It Can Make Streaming Profitable and Promises a Combined Disney+, Hulu Service

Bob Iger believes. On a call with investors Wednesday, the Disney CEO said that the company’s goal is to make its streaming business profitable by the end of next year. A big component of that: A new service that combines Disney+ and Hulu, set to launch next spring.

This is a goal Disney has been working on for a while, ever since it launched its Netflix competitor Disney+ in 2019. The company has poured millions into acquiring subscribers, experimenting with ad-supported tiers and service bundles—various combinations of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+—and changing prices in a quest to lure viewers and keep them.

If Wednesday’s call is any indication, their plans are working. Disney+ added 7 million new subscribers in the last three months, most of them on ad-supported tiers, bringing the total worldwide subscriber base to 112 million. That may seem small compared to the 247 million customers Netflix boasts, but the gains look pretty good when considering Netflix added 9 million subscribers and Max (formerly HBO Max) lost 700,000 in the same amount of time.

Citing successes like The Kardashians and the Star Wars series Ahsoka, Iger said he was confident that Disney’s streaming offerings could hit profitability by the end of 2024, and “our recent performances solidifies that we’re on that path.”

Going into the investor call, Disney was facing a headwind. In August, the last time the Mouse House detailed quarterly earnings, it reported a loss of more than 11 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide. It had shed subscribers the quarter before, too. Overall, the streaming service lost $512 million that quarter, bringing total losses to $11 billion since the launch of Disney+ in 2019. At the time, the company said it would pivot from the expensive work of trying to attract new subscribers, and focus on more lucrative pricing structures.

That’s why on October 12, the cost of its ad-free plan jumped from $11 per month to $14. At the same time, Hulu’s prices rose from $15 per month to $18. Other streamers have made similar shifts. Last month, Netflix announced price hikes, while showing subscriber growth amidst password-sharing crackdowns. Apple TV+ also increased prices. Max has kept its prices pretty consistent, but hasn’t seen much in the way of subscriber gains.

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