Disney CEO Bob Iger began the company’s quarterly earnings call with 10 minutes of remarks about what he has described as the biggest corporate initiative of his 45-year tenure at the company: the launch of Disney+.
The subscription streaming platform, which goes live in the U.S. and a handful of other territories on November 12, will light up in the UK and Western Europe next March 31. Key territories in the March launch called out by Iger include France, Spain, Germany and Italy. More than 500 movies (including titles from the Disney Vault) as well as 7,500 TV episodes (including 30 seasons of The Simpsons) will be offered in the UK and Europe at launch. That level will grow to 620 movies and 10,000 TV episodes by 2025, Iger said.
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Prior forecasts for 60 million to 90 million global subscribers by 2024 were not revised during the call. Details about launches in key territories such as Asia and Latin America have not yet been revealed.
Distribution partnerships, a less-than-sexy but crucial part of streaming, also got the spotlight during Iger’s comments. He announced that Disney has forged deals with Amazon and its Fire connected devices, plus Samsung and LG smart TVs. On launch day next week, Iger confirmed, customers will be able to access the Disney+ app across Google, Apple, Microsoft and Roku platforms as well. He declined to offer any indication of the performance of presales, which have been offered since August, when they kicked off at the company’s D23 fan event.
Confirming longtime expectations, Iger also said FX and Fox Searchlight will have designated homes on Hulu starting next March. While originals will continue to be a key part of Hulu, Iger also offered an eye-catching number for Disney+ originals. He said by the end of its fifth year, the new platform will be releasing more than 60 original movies, specials and exclusive series each year.
“I am more confident than ever in our strategy and in our ability to execute it effectively,” Iger said on the call. “We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming [the company] to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience.”
Prior to Iger’s comments, the company had earlier reported strong results for its fiscal fourth quarter, with both revenue and earnings handily beating Wall Street analysts’ estimates.
ESPN+, Iger said, has reached 3.5 million subscribers 18 months after its launch. ESPN+, Disney+ and the ad-supported tier of Hulu will be offered as a bundle for $13. Hulu has also experienced a growth spurt since Disney took operational control of it in a deal with Comcast last May. It now has 28.5 million total subscribers, up from 26.8 million on May 1.
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