Disney's streaming ambitions have not been well received by the fall. In its fourth quarter, Disney+ only added 2.1 million subscribers to reach 118.1 million customers. This is in line with the company’s cautious estimate (in low single-digit millions) and 60 percent more customers than last year, but far below what analysts had expected. CNBC reported that StreetAccount had predicted 9.4 Million new users for this quarter.
The streaming-oriented Direct to Consumer division of Disney lost $630 million, compared to $374 million a previous year. This was due in part to increased spending on marketing, production, and technology costs. However, these figures suggest that Disney+ has not yet been a net positive two years after its launch. Company chief Bob Chapek maintained his belief that the company would reach its subscriber targets (over 220 million users by September 2024), and make a profit.
The media giant warned of "headwinds." Monsters at Work and Black Widow were responsible for the majority of the work. Although the company did stream Black Widow and Jungle Cruise movies, original films were not a strength.
The fall is looking brighter. Disney+ will stream Shang-Chi starting November 12th. It will also launch shows like Hawkeye or The Book of Boba Fett and expand into other countries such as South Korea. These shows could increase subscribers and viewership. It is unclear if there is enough content and expansions to bring Disney+ back to its former glory, especially when Disney+ is reintroducing theater-first movies.
This wasn't the only long-term goal. Chapek hinted at the possibility of a Disney metaverse, which would include the company's characters and merge both the virtual and physical worlds. The CEO reiterated that this was a long-term goal, and did not share any timelines or technical details. This is more of an attempt to combat Facebook's Meta rebranding and less a tangible project.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.