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Walt Disney's Hulu and Disney+ Subscribers Jump

By Daniel Sparks - May 5, 2020 at 5:44PM

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The media giant's nascent streaming business continues to see rapid growth.

Walt Disney's (DIS 2.85%) recent launch of Disney+ and its move to buy out the remaining stake in Hulu continue to pay off for the media giant. Fiscal Q2 was another good quarter for the two services.

Notably, since Disney's fiscal second quarter ended on March 28, some of the impact of stay-at-home orders on the company's' business -- both negative and positive -- were limited to the last few weeks of the quarter. Sure, the company's parks in China were shut down during the first half of the period. But it wasn't until later during the quarter that the coronavirus began affecting many markets outside China. That meant the positive impact on streaming TV due to many consumers sheltering at home didn't have much time to contribute to Disney's fiscal Q2. Nevertheless, the media company still saw sharp growth in paid users for its streaming services.

Disney+ streaming service on a TV

Disney+. Image source: Walt Disney.

Walt Disney's streaming boom continues

At the end of Walt Disney's first quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended on Dec. 28, 2019, Disney+ subscribers were 26.5 million. Hulu subscribers were 30.4 million at the time.

The 26.5 million Disney+ subscribers the company reported at the end of its fiscal first quarter was particularly impressive, since the service was still fresh off its launch in November of last year. Reported Hulu subscribers were up 33% year over year, fueled in part by a new bundled package Walt Disney was offering that included a subscription to ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu.

These services continued to grow nicely over the next three months. By the end of fiscal Q2, total Disney+ subscribers were 33.5 million and Hulu subscribers were 32.1 million.

Even ESPN+ surprisingly continued to grow nicely. Even though many live sports were shut down toward the end of March, the streaming sports service boasted 7.9 million subscribers, up from 2.2 million in the year-ago period and 6.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

Hulu monetization is looking good

One bright spot in Walt Disney's update on its streaming business was an improvement in average monthly revenue per paid subscriber on Hulu.

The company's live TV and subscription video on demand (Disney refers to them as Live "TV + SVOD") customers, saw average monthly revenue per subscriber jump 29% year over year to $67.75. Further, the number of users paying for this package of live TV and SVOD soared 65% year over year, helped by a price increase.

Average monthly revenue per customer that was only paying for Hulu's SVOD service decreased by 5% year over year to $12.06, driven by a price cut to the service more than three weeks into the year-ago period. These SVOD-only customers, however, rose 24% year over year.

Disney+ subscriber growth has accelerated more recently

It's worth noting that following the close of fiscal Q2, Disney had already provided an update on Disney+ subscribers. They had climbed to 50 million by April 8. Now that we know that Disney closed out its fiscal first-quarter with 33.5 million Disney+ subscribers, we can see how powerful the catalyst of sheltering at home has been for Disney. Between March 28 and April 8, Disney+ subscribers increased by an extraordinary 16.5 million.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short July 2020 $115 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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