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Disney+ reaches 73.7 million subscribers a year after launch

Disney+ reaches 73.7 million subscribers a year after launch

"It has quickly exceeded our highest expectations," CEO Bob Chapek said during the company's earnings call Thursday.

Photo: Getty Images

Disney announced Thursday that streaming service Disney+ had 73.7 million subscribers on Oct. 3, close to one year after its launch. Before its launch, Disney predicted that Disney+ would attract 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024.

"It has quickly exceeded our highest expectations," said CEO Bob Chapek during the company's earnings call Thursday afternoon, calling Disney+ a "real bright spot amidst the pandemic."

Quarter-over-quarter growth for Disney+ was 28%, which is below the record 71.6% growth the service saw in Disney's fiscal Q3 (April-June), but still above the 26% growth seen during the first three months of this year. A certain decline in growth was to be expected: Many consumers subscribed to video services during the early months of the pandemic, effectively front-loading growth that would otherwise have happened later in the year.

The big issue going forward for Disney will be retention: A couple million of subscribers received free access to Disney+ through a promotional partnership with Verizon, which paid Disney a smaller wholesale rate per subscriber. These promotions are scheduled to end after 12 months, which could suppress Disney+ growth in the current quarter. However, if a significant portion of these subscribers were to stick with the service and pay out of their own pockets, Disney's revenue per user could actually go up.

Disney+ could also get another growth push from further international expansion; executives said Thursday that India alone was already accounting for 25% of all Disney+ subscribers, and that the service would launch in Latin America on Tuesday.

Including Hulu and ESPN+, Disney is now selling more than 120 million streaming video subscriptions directly to consumers, helping the company to generate close to $5 billion in direct-to-consumer revenue during its fiscal Q4. Altogether, the company generated $14.7 billion in revenue, with net losses coming in at $710 million due to the continued impact of COVID-19 on Disney's theme park, theater and cruise ship businesses.

Chapek promised to reveal more details about the company's streaming strategy going forward during an investor event next month, but said that Disney was shifting its investments from traditional TV networks to streaming services. "You will see it heavily tilt," he said.

App store laws, Microsoft AR and Square buys Tidal

Welcome to this weekend's Source Code podcast.

Cole Burston/Bloomberg

This week on the Source Code podcast: First, an update on Google's user-tracking change. Then, Ben Pimentel joins the show to discuss Square buying Tidal, and what it means for the fintech and music worlds. Later, Emily Birnbaum explains the bill moving through the Arizona legislature that has Google and Apple worried about the future of app stores. And finally, Janko Roettgers discusses Microsoft Mesh, the state of AR and VR headsets, and when we're all going to be doing meetings as holograms.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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