Streaming service Disney+ added nearly 12 million subscribers in its first financial quarter of 2022, bringing its total to 129.8 million.

The 37% year on year rise in subscriptions significantly exceeded analysts’ expectations, and was an improvement on the disappointing 2.1 million subscribers that Disney added in the fourth quarter of last year.

Encanto logo

Encanto earned two Oscar nominations

Disney’s biggest growth has been internationally. In the U.S. and Canada, Disney+ has 42.9 million subscribers, up 18% from a year ago.

Internationally, excluding the cheaper Disney+ Hotstar service in India, its count is 41.1 million, up 40%.

In the most recent quarter, the service grew mainly in Europe and Asia, where Disney+ launched in countries such as South Korea. Disney+Hotstar has 45.9 million accounts, 57% more than a year earlier.

Disney’s results compared favourably with Netflix, which disappointed in January by adding just 8.3 million subscribers, taking its subs to 222 million globally – well short of analyst expectations. Rival HBO Max has 74 million subscribers.

Walt Disney is aiming to hit 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2024.

The company has had some hits in recent months, with The Book of Boba Fett and Peter Jackson’s documentary The Beatles: Get Back attracting streaming audiences.

Disney enjoyed a strong performance in the 2022 Academy Award nominations. The company earned 23 nominations — the second most behind Netflix’s 27 — for films such as Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley and the animated musical Encanto. West Side Story will start streaming on Disney+ on 2 March.

Marvel series Moon Knight also arrives next month, while Star Wars spin-off Obi-wan Kenobi starring Ewan McGregor launches on 25 May.

Disney recently said it would spend $33 billion on content overall in the current financial year, up from $25 billion in 2021.

Overall, Disney reported revenue of $21.8 billion in the three months that ended in January, up 34% from the same period a year earlier.

The company posted profit of $1.15 billion, up from $29 million a year earlier.

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