As Disney+ exceeds expectations by gaining 12.4 million net new subscribers to stand at 116 million worldwide as of July 3, and thus beating analyst targets, the announcement finally came that the streaming service will begin a rollout to include the MENA region, starting in the summer of 2022. Yes, the wait is nearly over but there is still one whole year to go.
Even with a one dollar per month price hike this past March and some rocky results in the first three months of 2021 -- after their stellar 2020 when customer turned to streaming in the midst of the pandemic -- the service has been beating Wall Street's expectations which had forecast subscribers at just over 112 million for the period. Disney revenues overall are up 45% both from the growth of their streaming service and the reopening of their theme parks around the world.
Disney+ Hotstar, which is available in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, accounted for the bulk of the gain and their customers make up a hefty 40% of the 116 million total.
On an earnings call this past Thursday, CEO Bob Chapek said Disney+ expected launch in eastern Europe was getting pushed from late 2021 to the summer of 2022, to account for a broader market rollout that includes "parts of the Middle East and Africa." It is unclear still where the rollout will begin in the Middle East.
Recently, Disney+ has released in VOD some major Disney titles, including Cruella and Black Widow. In its opening weekend Black Widow earned more than US$ 60 millions worldwide on the streaming platform. The release on VOD of Black Widow was threatened to be overshadowed by a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, who accused Disney of shortchanging her by not releasing the film exclusively through a theatrical window.
While Disney+ content is currently found on OSN in the Middle East region, this mainly accounts for Disney+ originals and does not include the broader Disney+ library, which includes Disney content from past and present. The partnership with OSN began in 2020 and is not expected to continue after Disney+ begins distributing their own platform in the MENA.