Thanks to its launch in 42 new countries and 11 territories across Europe, Asia and Africa, Disney+ re-accelerated its subscriber growth in the past quarter. Disney's flagship streaming service added more than 14 million subscribers in the three months ended July 2, 2022, up from 7.9 million in the previous quarter. Having reached its 90 million subscriber goal three years ahead of schedule at the end of 2020, the Netflix competitor based in Burbank, California had 152 million subscribers as of July 2, up 36 million from a year earlier. To put that number in context, it took Netflix eight to twelve years (depending on when you start counting) to reach as many subscribers for its streaming service, which is currently the number 1 in the world with 221 million subscribers.
Upon the launch of its highly anticipated streaming service in November 2019, Disney had forecast to reach between 60 and 90 million subscribers in 2024, an estimate that looks highly conservative, if not comically low from today's point of view. In fairness, it needs to be said that the pandemic probably played a role in Disney reaching its goal so far ahead of schedule. Like Netflix, Disney+ likely profited from stay-at-home orders and limited leisure activities in the face of Covid-19.
As the pandemic struck in early 2020, with movie theaters and theme parks closed and cruise ship sailings suspended, Disney saw itself forced to double-down on its direct-to-consumer business, with Disney+ at the heart of that strategic shift. Between Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, Disney had 221 million paid streaming subscribers at the end of last quarter, contributing to a 25-percent increase in direct-to-consumer revenue in the first nine months of Disney's fiscal year.