Hulu is raising the price on its on-demand plans by $1 starting Oct. 8

Following last year’s price hike on its Live TV service, Hulu is now preparing to raise prices again. Starting on October 8, 2021, Hulu will raise the price for both its on-demand plans, Hulu and Hulu with No Ads. However, unlike the earlier price hike which had clocked in at $10 more per month for each of its two Live TV plans, the new price increase will be just $1.00.

That means the ad-supported version of Hulu will increase from $5.99 to $6.99 per month, while Hulu with No Ads will increase from $11.99 to $12.99 per month. This will apply to both existing and new subscribers. Hulu says none of the October increases will impact its Live TV service or any plan where Hulu is bundled with Disney+. (Disney took full control of Hulu after buying Comcast’s stake in 2019).

Today, Hulu is offered with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 per month. This subtle shift in pricing for Hulu’s standalone service may make that bundle look attractive to those not in the market for Hulu’s live TV.

Hulu’s on-demand service accounts for the majority of its subscriber base today. In Disney’s fiscal third quarter earnings, announced last month, Hulu’s subscription video on-demand business had grown 22% year-over-year to reach 39.1 million subscribers, while its Live TV service (which also include the on-demand offerings), had grown just 9% to reach 3.7 million subscribers. Combined, Hulu had 42.8 million total subscribers, up 21% compared to the same period from the prior year.

This is slower growth, however, than Disney+ — that service saw more than 100% year-over-year growth, jumping from 57.7 million subscribers as of Disney’s Q3 2020 to 116 million in Disney’s Q3 2021.

Including Disney’s EPSN+, the company’s direct-to-consumer business had a total of nearly 174 million subscribers by the end of the quarter, the company said.

However, although Hulu trails Disney+ in subscriber count, it’s ahead on average monthly revenue per user (ARPU).

In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said. Hulu’s on-demand service, meanwhile, saw ARPU climb from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09.

Hulu’s on-demand business includes a combination of licensed content and original programming, like newer arrivals “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Only Murders in the Building,” and “Vacation Friends.” The company also just added thousands of Hotstar Specials and Bollywood hits, as of September 1.

 

#companies, #disney, #disney-channel, #disney-plus, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #hulu-live-tv, #mass-media, #media, #streaming, #streaming-service, #svod, #tc, #television, #the-walt-disney-company, #tv, #video

Disney+ beats expectations to reach 116 million subscribers in Q3

Disney’s streaming service is seeing improved growth, after initially seeing slower numbers of subscriber additions in Q2 as COVID lockdowns and mask mandates came to an end. Today, Disney+ beat analyst expectations for subscriber growth in Disney’s blowout third quarter, reaching 116 million paid subscribers — above the 114.5 million Wall Street had expected — and up over 100% year-over-year.

Disney also topped expectations across the board, with $17.02 billion in revenue versus the $16.76 billion expected, and earnings per share of 80 cents, above analysts’ expectations of 55 cents. Even Disney Parks were back in business. 

The pandemic had thrown a wrench in forecasting growth metrics across a number of industries, streaming included. Although Disney+ has well-established itself as one of the few competitors capable of challenging Netflix in an increasingly crowded market, it has seen some ups and downs due to COVID impacts. In the earlier days of the pandemic, streaming was on the rise. This March, Disney+ passed 100 million subscribers after just 16 months of operation. At the time, Disney execs said the service was on track to meet its projections of 260 million subscribers by 2024.

But in Disney’s second-quarter earnings, the economy’s re-opening impacted Disney+ numbers, as people finally had more to do than just sit at home, and vaccinations become more widely available. Then, Disney+ only reached 103.6 million subscribers, when analysts were expecting 109.3 million, and the stock slipped as a result.

Disney wasn’t alone in feeling the impacts of COVID-induced lumpiness in subscriber additions. Netflix had also seen slower subscriber growth earlier in the year due to COVID and its far-reaching effects on things like production delays and release schedules.

But Netflix’s most recent quarter, where it once again topped subscriber estimates, had hinted that Disney+ may see a similar boost. Aiding in that growth was Disney+’s recent market expansions in Asia. Disney+ Hotstar arrived in Malaysia and Thailand in June after prior launches in India and Indonesia last year.

The Hotstar version of Disney+, however, led to lowered average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) in the quarter due to its lower price points. In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said.

Disney’s other streaming services, Hulu and ESPN+, didn’t see the same trend.

Hulu’s subscription video service jumped from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09. ESPN+ also grew from $4.18 to $4.47.

Subscriber growth also increased across the services, with ESPN+ growing 75% year-over-year to reach 14.9 million customers and total Hulu subscribers growing 21% to reach 42.8 million.

“…Our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platform,” noted Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a press release.

Across Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, revenues grew 57% to $4.3 billion and its operating loss declined from $0.6 billion to $0.3 billion, thanks to improved results from Hulu, including subscription growth and higher ad revenues.

These gains were offset by a higher loss at Disney+ attributed to programming, production, marketing and technology costs that were somewhat mitigated by increases in subscription revenues and success of the Disney+ Premier Access release of “Cruella.” (Disney’s fiscal quarter ended July 3, so the impacts of the massive haul that “Black Widow” saw following its U.S. opening — nor the resulting lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, for that matter — have yet to be included in these figures.)

#asia, #bob-chapek, #disney, #disney-plus, #e-commerce, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #india, #indonesia, #malaysia, #mass-media, #media, #netflix, #scarlett-johansson, #streaming-services, #thailand, #the-walt-disney-company

Nielsen says ‘The Office’ was the most popular streaming series of 2020

Because streaming services only release viewership numbers selectively, and because each one uses its own methodology, it can be hard to compare the popularity of different streaming shows and movies.

So Nielsen, which provides the standard ratings for traditional TV (and is working to combine those ratings with streaming data), is offering some apples-to-apples comparison today at CES by releasing its own lists of the most popular streaming content in 2020, across Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu.

These lists are limited to U.S. viewership. And unlike Nielsen’s linear ratings, they don’t just reflect the total number of people watching, but focus instead on the total number of minutes watched. That also makes for a striking contrast with the ratings that Netflix releases, which count the number of households who watched at least two minutes of a program, but don’t distinguish between someone who watches two minutes versus two hours versus 20 hours.

Still, the TV series lists are absolutely dominated by Netflix, while Disney+ puts in a good showing on the movies list. The other services don’t crack any of the three Top 10 lists.

On the original series side, the surprising winner (at least, surprising to me) was Netflix’s “Ozark,” with 30.5 billion minutes streamed, followed by “Lucifer” (19.0 billion minutes) and “The Crown” (16.3 billion minutes). “Tiger King,” which seems like one of the defining hits of the pandemic, came in at number four, with 15.7 billion minutes streamed — though Nielsen’s methodology puts it at a disadvantage, since it only has eight episodes. The same could probably be said for “The Mandalorian,” the first non-Netflix series on the list, with 14.5 billion minutes streamed.

Nielsen 2020 list

Image Credits: Nielsen

The numbers were even bigger for acquired series — all of them streaming on Netflix last year, although the number one show, “The Office” (57.1 billion minutes streamed) just moved to Peacock. The other shows in the top five are “Grey’s Anatomy” (39.4 billon minutes), “Criminal Minds” (35.4 billion minutes), “NCIS” (28.1 billion minutes) and “Schitt’s Creek” (23.8 billion minutes).

On the movie side, the biggest title was “Frozen II,” which came early to Disney+ and was streamed for 14.9 billion minutes, followed by “Moana” (Disney+, 10.5 billion minutes), “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Netflix, 9.1 billion minutes), “Onward” (Disney+, 8.4 billion minutes) and “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” (6.2 billion minutes). This seems to be a category where family films have advantage, perhaps because kids are more likely to watch them multiple times.

Beyond releasing these lists, Nielsen is announcing a new product designed to measure viewership of theatrical video on-demand, a.k.a. movies that are released for rent or purchase online. While studios should already have access to basic purchase data for these titles, Nielsen says it can provide “the entire media food chain” with more detailed information about things like the age, gender, ethnicity and geographic territory of who’s watching.

In a statement, Nielsen’s general manager of audience measurement Scott N. Brown said:

As this unprecedented pandemic continues to influence consumer behavior, perhaps even through a prolonged state of recovery waves, being able to measure and help clients appropriately monetize new revenue streams has never been more crucial. A bigger question might be what will audiences do following any recovery, how the behavior adopted during stay-at-home orders might influence habits when consumers have the ability to go back to theaters to enjoy that experience and how content creators will leverage data to make the best decisions regarding distribution platforms in the future.

 

#disney, #hulu, #media, #netflix, #nielsen, #the-walt-disney-company

Streaming services face their real test in 2021

After a year where the movie business was defined almost entirely by pauses and delays, Warner Bros. took decisive action on December 3.

It had only been a couple of weeks since the studio had announced that in the face of surging coronavirus numbers, it wouldn’t be delaying the Christmas release of “Wonder Woman 1984” yet again. Instead, it would launch the movie simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, the new streaming service from its parent company WarnerMedia.

While media/telecom executives and Wall Street investors seem willing to make big investments for a streaming-centric future, they’ll expect to see actual profits soon.

It turned out that this decision — already described as a transformative moment in the industry, and potentially the beginning of the end for theaters — was just the beginning. On December 3, Warner Bros. announced that it would be following the exact same strategy for every movie on its theatrical slate in 2021.

This may have seemed like welcome news to moviegoers eager to finally see “In the Heights” (already delayed by about a year thanks to the pandemic) or “Dune” (ditto). But while “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot seemed to embrace the news, declaring that it was time to share their movie with fans, other Warner Bros. filmmakers were less enthusiastic.

For example, “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan complained that Warner Bros. executives “don’t even understand what they’re losing,” and he claimed that filmmakers had gone to bed “thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service.” (Nolan’s “Tenet” was released in theaters in the fall, and its disappointing box office numbers, particularly in the U.S., probably played a big role in Warner’s decision.)

And in a guest column for Variety, “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve pointed his finger at AT&T, which acquired Time Warner several years earlier. He suggested that the streaming strategy had less to do with the pandemic and more with the underwhelming launch of HBO Max over the summer.

“With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention,” Villeneuve wrote.

Barely more than a week after the Warner Bros. announcement, Disney had a big presentation of its own, laying out ambitious streaming plans for the next few years, with 10 Marvel shows, 10 Star Wars shows, 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar series and 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar feature films all in the pipeline for Disney+.

Disney’s announcements weren’t greeted with the same uproar and controversy as Warner’s — it didn’t represent a wholesale shift in its theatrical strategy (the Marvel Studios film “Black Widow” is currently still scheduled for a traditional release in May, for example), and unlike WarnerMedia, its announcements didn’t blindside filmmakers and throw their compensation into question.

Still, the message to the industry and the public was quite similar: While Disney isn’t abandoning theaters outright, it clearly sees streaming as its future, with the studio willing to reboot any and every intellectual property (“Turner and Hooch”! “Swiss Family Robinson”! An “Alien” TV series!) to attract potential subscribers.

#entertainment, #media, #nbcuniversal, #netflix, #the-walt-disney-company, #warnermedia

Original Content podcast: ‘The Mandalorian’ season two goes deep into Star Wars mythology

“The Mandalorian” just wrapped up its second season on Disney+, with an action-packed and surprise-filled finale.

In many ways, it feels like a seamless continuation of the first season’s storylines, with the titular bounty hunter searching for a Jedi who can take responsibility for the alien moppet known to the internet as Baby Yoda, while the pair is pursued by the sinister Moff Gideon.

But as we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, where the first season of “The Mandalorian” felt accessible to anyone, regardless of their level of Star Wars fandom, season two deepens its ties to the rest of the fictional universe.

That includes bringing in live action versions of characters from the animated “Clone Wars” series, as well as setting up the many other Star Wars shows that are in the works for Disney+. This approach prompted very different responses from your podcast hosts — Darrell was delighted since he understood all the Ester Eggs, Jordan was exhausted trying to keep up and Anthony was happy to let many of the references go over his head.

At least the show’s other virtues remain intact, with enjoyably grungy and tactile space opera settings, spectacular big budget battles and an adorable baby Jedi.

In addition to reviewing “The Mandalorian,” we also discuss HBO Max’s arrival on Roku (which somehow prompts Anthony to explain his disappointment in the new Christopher Nolan movie “Tenet”), and Darrell and Jordan offer their latest thoughts on “The Bachelorette.”

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
4:14 HBO Max/”Tenet” discussion
13:35 “The Bachelorette” discussion
28:42 “The Mandalorian” Season 2 review
50:40 “The Mandalorian” spoiler discussion

#disney, #entertainment, #media, #original-content-podcast, #podcasts, #the-mandalorian, #the-walt-disney-company

Disney+ has plans for 10 Marvel shows and 10 Star Wars shows in the next few years

Disney just wrapped up the first segment of an investor day in which it laid out its plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming business, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar/Star.

The company kicked off the presentation with some new subscriber numbers — 86.8 million for Disney+ (roughly 30% of those are subscribers to Disney+ Hotstar, which leveraged an existing streaming service in India), 38.8 million for Hulu and 11.5 million for ESPN+, adding up to more than 137 million subscribers across the company’s streaming business.

The rest of the event is expected to focus on content announcements and previews, but Chairman of Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniels has already hinted at big plans for the next “few years.”

While high-profile Disney+’s originals have largely been limited to “The Mandalorian” and “Hamilton” in year one, Daniels said the company has plans to launch 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar series and 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar feature films exclusively on Disney+.

At the same time, Daniels said that Disney remains committed to a variety of distribution strategies, particularly “theatrical exhibition’s ability to establish major franchises.”

He also announced that the Disney Animation film “Raya and the Dragon” will follow the same distribution strategy as “Mulan” this fall, with the film launching simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ as a Premier Access release that subscribers will need to pay extra to see.

The presentation also made it clear that the Hotstar/Star brand will be key to Disney’s international growth plans. In Latin America, the company plans to launch a standalone Star+ service, while a new Star section in the Disney+ app will become the home to “general entertainment” content (basically, the kinds of content that U.S. viewers will find on Hulu) in other markets like Europe.

Adding a Star section will mean introducing mature content to Disney+, which was previously limited to family-friendly content. So Disney also offered a quick demonstration of new parental controls that will allow subscribers to turn access to more mature content on and off — that should also introduce new content to other parts of Disney+, for example bringing the R-rated film “Logan” to the Marvel section.

You can also expect to see more integrations between different Disney streaming services. For example, Star+ will include content from ESPN, while Hulu will introduce the ability to subscribe and watch ESPN+ content directly in the app.

And if you’re a subscriber to the Disney bundle, which combines Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month, the company plans to add a new tier in January that offers ad-free Hulu for an extra $6 per month.

#disney, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #the-walt-disney-company

Bob Iger goes from managing Mickey to directing a milk replacement startup as new Perfect Day boardmember

Bob Iger, the chairman and former chief executive at Walt Disney is trading his mouse ears for milk substitutes as the new director of massively funded dairy replacement startup Perfect Day.

Milk substitutes are a $1 trillion category and Perfect Day is angling to be the leader in the market. Iger’s ascension to a director position at the company just affirms that Perfect Day is a big business in the big business of making milk replacements.

Unlike almond milk or soy milk companies, Perfect Day is angling to be a direct replacement for bovine dairy using a protein cultivated from mushrooms.

The move comes as Perfect Day ramps up its development of consumer products on its own and through investments in startups like the Urgent Company. That’s the consumer food company Perfect Day backed to commercialize technologies and create more sustainable food brands.

For Iger, the Perfect Day board represents the first new board seat the longtime entertainment powerbroker has taken since he left Apple.

“Innovation and leadership are both key to world changing ideas,” said Iger, in a statement. “Perfect Day has established both innovation in its use of technology and novel approach to fighting climate change, and clear leadership in building a category with a multi-year head start in the industry they’re helping to build. I’m thrilled to join at this pivotal moment and support the company’s swift growth into new categories and markets.”

Iger joins Perfect Day’s co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, and representatives from the company’s international backers and lead investors, Aftab Mathur, from Temasek Holdings, and Patrick Zhang, of Horizons Ventures.

Until yesterday, Perfect Day was the most well-capitalized protein fermentation company focused on dairy in the world. That’s when Impossible Foods, the alternative meat manufacturer which has raised $1.5 billion from investors, unveiled that it, too, was working on a dairy product.

Perfect Day, by contrast, has raised $360 million in total funding to-date.

“We’re thrilled to have Bob Iger join our team, and are confident his tenured operational expertise and visionary leadership style will further help us scale our ambitions,” said Ryan Pandya, the chief executive and co-founder of Perfect Day, in a statement. “We’re focused on rapid commercialization in the U.S. and globally. But we know we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re excited and humbled to have a proven leader like Bob to help us thoughtfully transform our purpose-driven aspirations into tangible and sustainable impact.”

#bob-iger, #chairman, #consumer-products, #director, #drinks, #food-and-drink, #horizons-ventures, #iger, #impossible-foods, #leader, #milk, #perfect-day, #perumal-gandhi, #ryan-pandya, #tc, #temasek-holdings, #the-walt-disney-company, #united-states, #urgent-company, #walt-disney

Disney+ UX teardown: Wins, fails and fixes

Disney announced earlier this month that it’s going all-in on streaming media.

As part of this new strategy, the company is undergoing a major reorganisation of its media and entertainment business that will focus on developing productions that will debut on its streaming and broadcast services.

This will include merging the company’s media businesses, ads and distribution, and Disney+ divisions so that they’ll now operate under the same business unit.

As TechCrunch’s Jonathan Shieber reports, Disney’s announcement follows a significant change to its release schedule to address new realities, including a collapsing theatrical release business; production issues; and the runaway success of its Disney+ streaming service — all caused or accelerated by the national failure to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic.

So what better time than now to give Disney+ the Extra Crunch user experience teardown treatment. With the help of Built for Mars founder and UX expert Peter Ramsey, we highlight some of the things Disney+ gets right and things that should be fixed. They include zero distractions while signing up, “the power of percentages,” and the importance of designing for trackpad, mouse and touch outside of native applications.

Zero distractions while signing up

If the user is trying to complete a very specific task — such as making a payment — don’t distract them. They’re experiencing event-driven behaviour.

The win: Disney have almost entirely removed any kind of distractions when signing up. This includes the header and footer. They want you to stay on-task.

Image Credits: Disney+

Steve O’Hear: This seems like a very easy win but one we don’t see as often as perhaps we should. Am I right that most sign-up flows aren’t this distraction-free and why do you think that is?

Peter Ramsey: Yeah, it’s such an easy win. Sometimes you see sign-up screens that have Google Adwords on it, and I think, “You’re risking the user getting distracted and leaving for what, half a penny?” If I had to guess why more companies don’t utilise this technique, it’s probably just because they don’t want to deal with the technical hassle of hiding a bunch of elements.

The power of percentages

Only use percentages when it makes sense. 80% off sounds like a lot, but 3% doesn’t. Percentages can be a great way of making a discount seem larger than it actually is, but sometimes it can have the reverse effect. This is because people are generally bad at accurately estimating discounts. “What’s 13% off £78?”

The fail: If you sign up to a year of Disney+, then you’re offered 16% free. But 16% of a £60 bundle isn’t easy to calculate in your head — so people guess. And sometimes, their guesses may be less than the actual value of the discount.

The fix: In this instance, it would be far more compelling (and require less mental arithmetic), if it was marketed as “60 days free.” Sixty days is both easy to understand and easy to assign value to.

Image Credits: Disney+

Percentages may be harder to process or evaluate in isolation as an end user but they are easy to compare with each other i.e., we all know 25% off is better than 10% off. Aren’t you advocating obscuring the actual saving in favour of what sounds better on a case-by-case basis and therefore actually working against the end user? Of course I’m playing devils advocate a little here.

So, it’s actually a really complex dilemma, and there’s no “easy” answer — this would probably make a great dinner time conversation. Yes, if you’re offering two discounts, then a percentage may be the easiest way for people to compare them.

#apps, #disney, #entertainment, #media, #netflix, #peter-ramsey, #streaming-media, #tc, #the-walt-disney-company, #ui, #user-experience, #user-interface, #ux

Verizon adds free Hulu and ESPN+ to some unlimited wireless plans

Verizon and Disney announced this morning that they’re extending and expanding a partnership that gives some Verizon Wireless subscribers access to Disney’s streaming services at no addition charge.

The companies announced last fall that Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) would be offering free Disney+ to unlimited wireless customers, and on an earnings call in February, Disney’s then-CEO Bob Iger said that around 20% of Disney+ subscribers came from Verizon.

More recently, the entertainment giant said that Disney+ had more than 60.5 million subscribers as of August 3. In comparison, Hulu had 35.5 million subscribers at the end of its most recent quarter (June 26), while ESPN+ had 8.5 million subscribers.

With today’s announcement, subscribers to Verizon’s Play More and Get More Unlimited wireless plans will get free access to not just Disney+, but also Hulu and ESPN+. (Plus, Apple Music.) Disney normally charges $12.99 when these three streaming services are purchased together as The Disney Bundle.

“The addition of The Disney Bundle to our agreement with Verizon reinforces our commitment to providing their subscribers with access to high-quality entertainment from Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+,” said Disney’s executive vice president of platform distribution Sean Breen in a statement. “We are always looking for the most advantageous ways for consumers to experience our content and we are pleased to work with Verizon so that they can provide their customers with these appealing new offers.”

 

#disney, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #tc, #the-walt-disney-company, #verizon

‘Mulan’ is coming to Disney+ on September 4, for an additional price of $29.99

Those wondering whether The Walt Disney Company would eventually give up on a traditional theatrical release for “Mulan” now have their answer.

Until now, Disney had repeatedly delayed “Mulan”‘s release due to theatrical closures in the U.S. and around the world, with “Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” expected to be the first big movie releases whenever theaters reopened.

However, with the pandemic showing no real signs of subsiding in the United States, and no clear date for theatrical reopenings in markets like New York and California, Warner Bros. recently announced that “Tenet” will not follow a traditional theatrical release schedule, and instead will open internationally this month before coming to select North American cities on September 3.

And during today’s earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that “Mulan” will launch on Disney+ on September 4 as a “premiere access” release in “most Disney+ markets” including the United States and Canada, while also being released theatrically in “certain markets.” It sounds like subscribers will have to pay an additional $29.99 for the film, although Chapek didn’t offer any details about how this will work.

During the call, Chapek also said that as of yesterday, Disney+ has grown to more than 60.5 million paid subscribers.

#disney, #entertainment, #media, #the-walt-disney-company

Disney+ grows to more than 60.5M subscribers

Disney+ had more than 60.5 million paying subscribers as of yesterday, according to The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek.

Chapek shared the number during a call to discuss the company’s latest earnings report, which covered the company’s most recent quarter ending on June 27. He was essentially offering an update on the 57.5 million paid subscriber figure included in the report, and he said the growth is “far exceeding our initial projections for the service.”

Disney+ launched in November of last year. The company previously announced in April that the service had passed 50 million subscribers. (Those numbers include subscribers acquired through bundling with Hotstar in India, as well as free subscribers through a promotion with TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon.)

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated growth for some streaming services. Most notably, Netflix added more than 10 million new subscribers in its most recent quarter, bringing its global total to nearly 193 million. As for Disney’s other streaming services, ESPN+ has grown more than 100% year-over-year to 8.5 million subscribers (as of June 26), while Hulu grew 27% to 35.5 million subscribers (3.4 million of them are paying for both video on demand and live TV).

And Disney+ may have gotten an additional bump, thanks to the release of “Hamilton” over the July 4 weekend.

Overall, Disney said revenue for its direct-to-consumer and international division increased 2% year-over-year, to $4.0 billion, while the unit’s operating loss grew from $562 million to $706 million.

Still, streaming likely counts as a relative bright spot compared to many of Disney’s other businesses that have either slowed or paused entirely due to the pandemic. (Parks are gradually reopening, for example.) The company’s total revenue fell 42% YOY to $11.8 billion, and earnings per share for the quarter showed a loss of $2.61.

Update: During the call, Chapek also announced that “Mulan” will be released on Disney+ on September 4, as a “premiere access” title that costs an additional $29.99.

#disney, #disney-plus, #entertainment, #espn, #hulu, #media, #the-walt-disney-company

Daily Crunch: Disney’s streaming chief departs for TikTok

TikTok enlists a big name from Disney as its new CEO, Walmart is shuttering its Jet e-commerce brand and EasyJet admits to a major data breach.

Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 19, 2020.

1. Disney streaming exec Kevin Mayer becomes TikTok’s new CEO

Mayer’s role involved overseeing Disney’s streaming strategy, including the launch of Disney+ last fall, which has already grown to more than 50 million subscribers. He was also seen as a potential successor to Disney CEO Bob Iger; instead, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek was named CEO in a sudden announcement in February.

Mayer was likely an attractive choice to lead TikTok not just because of his streaming success, but also because hiring a high-profile American executive could help address politicians’ security concerns about the app’s Chinese ownership.

2. Walmart says it will discontinue Jet, which it acquired for $3B in 2016

Walmart tried to put a positive spin on the news, saying, “Due to continued strength of the Walmart.com brand, the company will discontinue Jet.com. The acquisition of Jet.com nearly four years ago was critical to accelerating our omni strategy.”

3. EasyJet says 9 million travel records taken in data breach

EasyJet, the U.K.’s largest airline, said hackers have accessed the travel details of 9 million customers. The budget airline said 2,200 customers also had their credit card details accessed in the data breach, but passport records were not accessed.

4. Where these 6 top VCs are investing in cannabis

The results paint a stunning picture of an industry on the verge of breaking away from a market correction. Our six respondents described numerous opportunities for startups and investors, but cautioned that this atmosphere will not last long. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

5. Brex brings on $150M in new cash in case of an ‘extended recession’

Where upstart companies aren’t cutting staff, they are often reducing spend — which is bad news for Brex, since it makes money on purchases made through its startup-tailored corporate card. But co-founder Henrique Dubugras seems largely unbothered on how the pandemic impacts Brex’s future.

6. Popping the hood on Vroom’s IPO filing

Yesterday afternoon, Vroom, an online car buying service, filed to go public. What does a private, car-focused e-commerce company worth $1.5 billion look like under the hood? (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. Experience marketplace Pollen lays off 69 North America staff, furloughs 34 in UK

Founded in 2014 and previously called Verve, Pollen operates in the influencer or “word-of-mouth” marketing space. The marketplace lets friends or “members” discover and book travel, events and other experiences — and in turn helps promoters use word-of-mouth recommendations to sell tickets.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#daily-crunch, #kevin-mayer, #media, #mobile, #social, #the-walt-disney-company, #tiktok

Disney streaming exec Kevin Mayer becomes TikTok’s new CEO

Kevin Mayer, head of The Walt Disney Company’s direct-to-consumer and international business, is departing to become CEO of TikTok, as well as COO of the popular video app’s parent company ByteDance.

Founder Yiming Zhang will continue to serve as ByteDance CEO, while TikTok President Alex Zhu (formerly the co-founder of the predecessor app Musical.ly) becomes ByteDance’s vice president of product and strategy.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance,” Mayer said in a statement. “Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world.”

The news was first reported by The New York Times and subsequently confirmed in announcements from ByteDance and Disney.

Mayer’s role involved overseeing Disney’s streaming strategy, including the launch of Disney+ last fall, which has already grown to more than 50 million subscribers. He was also seen as a potential successor to Disney CEO Bob Iger; instead, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek was named CEO in a sudden announcement in February.

Mayer was likely an attractive choice to lead TikTok not just because of his streaming success, but also because hiring a high-profile American executive could help address politicians’ security concerns about the app’s Chinese ownership.

Over at Disney, Rebecca Campbell (most recently president of Disneyland Resort, who also worked on the Disney+ launch as the company’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa) is taking over Mayer’s role, while Josh D’Amaro is taking on Chapek’s old job as chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products.

In a statement, Chapek said:

As we look to grow our direct-to-consumer business and continue to expand into new markets, I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Rebecca. She is an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations and international businesses. She played a critical role in the launch of Disney+ globally while overseeing the EMEA region, and her strong business acumen and creative vision will be invaluable in taking our successful and well-established streaming services into the future.

 

#entertainment, #kevin-mayer, #media, #mobile, #social, #the-walt-disney-company, #tiktok

‘Artemis Fowl’ is skipping theaters for Disney+

With movie theaters largely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney is pushing back its slate of upcoming films. And at least one movie won’t be making it into theaters at all, with “Artemis Fowl” heading straight to streaming instead.

The company announced today that the film will debut exclusively on Disney+, and that the release date will be revealed soon.

All of the Hollywood studios are scrambling to adapt to the theatrical closures. NBCUniversal broke the theatrical window by releasing “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man” and “Emma” as streaming rentals while they were ostensibly still in theaters, and it will release “Trolls World Tour” digitally on April 10 — the same day as its official theatrical release.

Other studios followed suit. There were also reports that Paramount struck a deal to debut the Kumail Nanjiani/Issa Rae comedy “The Lovebirds” on Netflix instead of in theaters, but there’s been no announcement or release date yet.

Disney, meanwhile, already brought “Frozen 2” to Disney+ early, then took more aggressive steps for the Pixar film “Onward,” which went on-sale digitally just a few weeks after its release in theaters, and is launching on Disney+ today.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, “Artemis Fowl” tells the story of a young criminal mastermind of the same name, and it’s based on a series of young adult fantasy novels by Eoin Colfer. It was originally scheduled for release on August 9, 2019, before being delayed until May 29 of this year.

So why not delay it again, as Disney is doing with other films? It may simply be less of a sure bet in theaters than “Mulan,” “Black Widow” or even “Jungle Cruise.”

“Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years,” said Disney+ President of Content and Marketing Ricky Strauss in a statement. “It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+’s summer lineup.”

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #entertainment, #media, #tc, #the-walt-disney-company

Using 25% lower bandwidth, Disney+ launches in UK, Ireland, 5 other European countries, France to come online April 7

Disney+, the streaming service from the Walt Disney Company, has been rapidly ramping up in the last several weeks. But while some of that expansion has seen some hiccups, other regions are basically on track. Today, as expected, Disney announced that it is officially launching across 7 markets in Euopre — but doing so using reduced bandwidth given the strain on broadband networks as more people are staying home because of the coronavirus pandemic. From today, it will be live in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland; and Disney also reconfirmed the delayed debut in France will be coming online on April 7.

Seven is the operative number here, it seems: it’s the largest multi-country launch so far for the service.

“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ said Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, in a statement. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently, and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”

Pricing is £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription. Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal, will follow in summer 2020.

The service being rolled out will feature 26 Disney+ Originals plus an “extensive collection” of titles (some 500 films, 26 exclusive original movies and series and thousands of TV episodes to start with) from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and other content producers owned by the entertainment giant, in what has been one of the boldest moves yet from a content company to go head-to-head with OTT streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

Caught in the crossfire of Covid-19

The expansion of Disney+ has been caught in the crossfire of world events.

The new service is launching at what has become an unprecedented time for streaming media. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of of the world is being told to stay home, and many people are turning to their televisions and other screens for diversion and information.

That means huge demand for new services to entertain or distract people who are now sheltering in place. And that has put a huge strain on broadband networks. So, to be a responsible streamer (and to make sure quality is not too impacted), Disney confirmed (as it previously said it would) that it would be launching the service with “lower overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25%.”

There are now dozens of places to get an online video fix, but Disney has a lot of valuable cards in its hand, specifically in the form of a gigantic catalog of famous, premium content, and the facilities to produce significantly more at scale, dwarfing the efforts (valiant or great as they are) from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Apple .

Titles in the mix debuting today include “The Mandalorian” live-action Star Wars series; a live-action “Lady and the Tramp,” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,”; “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” docuseries from National Geographic; “Marvel’s Hero Project,” which celebrates extraordinary kids making a difference in their communities; “Encore!,” executive produced by the multi-talented Kristen Bell; “The Imagineering Story” a 6-part documentary from Emmy and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and animated short film collections “SparkShorts” and “Forky Asks A Question” from Pixar Animation Studios.

Some 600 episodes of “The Simpsons” is also included (with the latest season 31 coming later this year).

With entire households now being told to stay together and stay inside, we’re seeing a huge amount of pressure being put on to broadband networks and a true test of the multiscreen approach that streaming services have been building over the years.

In this case, you can use all the usuals: mobile phones, streaming media players, smart TVs and gaming consoles to watch the Disney+ service (including Amazon devices, Apple devices, Google devices, LG Smart TVs with webOS, Microsoft’s Xbox Ones, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment, with the ability to use four concurrent streams per subscription, or up to 10 devices with unlimited downloads. As you would expect, there is also the ability to set up parental controls and individual profiles.

Carriers with paid-TV services that are also on board so far include Deutsche Telekom, O2 in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France when the country comes online. No BT in the UK, which is too bad for me (sniff). Sky and NOW TV are also on board.

#amazon, #animation, #apple, #austria, #belgium, #broadband, #chairman, #companies, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #deutsche-telekom, #disney, #disney-channel, #e-commerce, #emmy, #entertainment, #europe, #executive, #france, #germany, #google, #internet-television, #ireland, #italy, #kevin-mayer, #lg, #media, #microsoft, #mobile-phones, #national-geographic, #netflix, #pixar, #pixar-animation-studios, #portugal, #roku, #smart-tv, #sony, #spain, #streaming-media, #streaming-media-players, #streaming-services, #switzerland, #telefonica, #the-walt-disney-company, #the-simpsons, #united-kingdom

Now streaming on Hotstar in India: Disney+

Disney+ has arrived in India — weeks ahead of its scheduled launch date. The American giant revamped Hotstar app and populated the on-demand video streaming service with Disney+ original catalog on Wednesday morning (local time).

Unlike in most other markets such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia; in India, Disney is launching Disney+ through an existing service. As part of its deal with Fox last year, Disney now owns Star India and all of its properties including Hotstar. The company has said that Hotstar, at its peak, had about 300 million monthly active users and 100 million monthly active users.

The service, bundled with Disney+, is currently available at no additional charge to existing Hotstar subscribers — who pay Rs 999 ($14) for a year — though the premium tier carries a new yearly sticker price of Rs 3,588 ($48). (Worth pointing out that earlier the premium tier had a sticker price of about Rs 2,500, though Hotstar has been discounting it at Rs 999.)

In addition to everything Hotstar previously offered — about 4,000 titles — the “Disney+ Hotstar” adds more than a dozen original titles from Disney, including “Diary of a Future President,” “Disney Family Sundays,” “Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings,” “Encore,” “High School Musical,” “The Mandalorian,” and “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.”

“For our India users we’re bringing the world’s best stories from the best storytellers at Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. 200+ movies, 100+ shows and 30+ originals!” the Disney+ Hotstar app’s description says.

A Hotstar spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company will have more to share on Friday. TechCrunch first reported about Disney’s plan to launch Disney+ launch in India. Disney former chief executive Bob Iger said earlier last month that the company will expand Hotstar to Southeast Asia and launch Disney+ in the region through it.

Some users have pointed out that the in-app player is not able to stream some titles seamlessly. And that the titles are available in full-HD (1080P), instead of their native 4K (UHD) resolution. Hotstar in India has yet to add support for 4K.

The early rollout of Disney+Hotstar comes at a rough time for Disney that has received criticism for censoring John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” show.

The streaming service, which is the exclusive streaming syndicating partner for HBO, Showtime, and ABC in India, blocked a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight” that was critical of India’s ruling party and its leader, Narendra Modi .

In the most recent episode of the show, Oliver called out Hotstar for censoring his show and said the streaming service had also edited out a few jokes about Disney from some of his recent episodes. The company has yet to comment on the censorship issue.

That aside, India is going to be a key overseas market for Disney+ and one where it already has a perceived lead over rivals Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and dozens of other services — all of which have lowered their price to win customers in India.

Hotstar has cashed in on the popularity of cricket in the country that has boosted its usage and relevance in the country. Star India has secured broadcasting and streaming rights to most cricket tournaments. In an interview in 2018, James Murdoch, then chief executive of Fox, said, “it’s tough for anyone else in India. They want cricket, but we have left nothing for them.”

Tussle for some of those rights continues.

#amazon, #apps, #asia, #hbo, #hotstar, #james-murdoch, #john-oliver, #media, #narendra-modi, #netflix, #the-walt-disney-company

John Oliver slams Disney’s Hotstar for censoring his show

John Oliver slammed Disney-owned Hotstar on Sunday for censoring his show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”, in India saying the local streaming service has edited at least three episodes in recent months.

A recent episode of “Last Week Tonight”, in which Oliver criticised the Indian government’s recent policies and its leader, Narendra Modi, never aired on Hotstar, which is the exclusive syndicating partner for most HBO content in India. [The same episode is available unedited on YouTube in India.]

Oliver also referenced an episode of the show from late last year where he had mocked Disney, a segment he said was cleverly edited before streaming in India. And then, another instance in a segment focused on China’s one-child policy in which he again joked that Donald Duck’s penis. That was also edited before going up for streaming in India, Oliver said.

“They cut out a joke about Mickey Mouse being a cocaine addict. Why would they do that? It’s hard to say. But it might be because Hotstar is owned by Disney and they seem extra sensitive to Disney references,” said Oliver.

(As part of its deal with Fox last year, Disney owns Star India, and all its properties, including Hotstar.)

Oliver ended the segment with this advice to Hotstar: “If you think that you have to remove anything that reflects poorly on Disney from this show, I have some bad news for you, my friends. I am fucking Zazu right here. Everything that comes out of this beak is a ‘Disney Fact’,” he said.

“If I say that Cogsworth collects Nazi memorabilia, guess what? That’s canon, baby. That’s a ‘Disney fucking Fact’ right there. And for the foreseeable future, Hotstar, you can look forward to learning a lot more of them on this show because we’re going to be sliding them into our stories like Chip and Dale slid into Richard Gere. That’s right — ‘Disney Fact,’ motherfuckers.”

You can bet your money that this episode will not air unedited on Hotstar tomorrow. And that is just the kind of promotion Disney must be looking for in India right now. Disney+ launches in India, through Hotstar, later this month.

We have reached out to Disney and Hotstar in India — but don’t think they will respond. They never do on such matters.

#apps, #asia, #entertainment, #hotstar, #john-oliver, #mickey-mouse, #narendra-modi, #the-walt-disney-company