A boost in Disney+ subscribers over the last quarter helped Walt Disney Co come close to that of Netflix Inc. However experts are worried about the future of streaming in the over-saturated market at the moment.
The first quarter brought 11.8 million subscribers to Disney+. One of the reasons for that was the release of "The Mandalorian" and "Black Widow."
But a closer look shows that a big part of that growth is the integration of Disney+ and ESPN+ with the Hulu Live service.
According to analyst Michael Nathanson, 2 million subscribers joined as a result of the integration with Hulu Live, and another 2.6 million subscribers came from Disney+ Hotstar, which brings in about $1 monthly revenue per user.
Disney's assertion of its long-term focus and expectation that the second half of the year will grow fast contrasted with Netflix's dark forecasts made last month.
Disney stocks were up by more than 5 % in early trading.
There is no question that Disney is still far behind Netflix in their total number of subscribers.
The streaming service had a total of 129.8 million subscribers in the last year since viewers had paid to watch "The Book of Boba Fett", "The Beatles: Get Back", and the Oscar-nominated animated film "Encanto".
By 2021, there were approximately 222 million paying Netflix subscribers.
Disney executives are emphasizing the importance of local content in an already oversaturated U.S. market. Rebecca Campbell was recently hired to enhance the company's international content production department.
Netflix is focusing on locally produced content. Such projects as "Squid Game" and "Lupin" attracted millions of subscribers all over the world and brought success to the company.
Christine McCarthy, Disney CFO, said that about a third of the $33 billion of total spending is for sports and the rest for content.
"With Disney+ coming to 42 more countries in the summer of 2022, the international growth story may be more important than the U.S. one," said Joe McCormack, senior analyst.