Disney+ to join crowded South African streaming market

Walt Disney Co’s popular and fast-growing streaming service, Disney+, is coming to South Africa. The platform will be available sometime in the middle of 2022, according to a report.

News24 quoted Disney CEO Bob Chapek as saying at the company’s third-quarter results presenation that the launch of Disney+ in Eastern Europe had been delayed from this year to next to accommodate a launch in South Africa and some markets in the Middle East.

Chapek reportedly alluded to a “summer 2022” launch, which equates to a winter 2022 debut for Disney+ in South Africa.

The planned launched adds to a wide array of streaming video subscription platforms already available to South African viewers, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, the homegrown Showmax, which is owned by MultiChoice Group, and the recently launched BritBox (a joint venture between the BBC and ITV that showcases the “best of British” programming). eMedia Holdings also recently took the wraps off the local eVOD service.

Disney+ has continued to surprise investors, with the streaming service reaching 116 million subscribers in the financial third quarter and beating the 113.1 million that analysts had expected.

Strong growth

The platform added 12.4 million subscribers in the period ended 3 July 2021, the entertainment giant said Thursday. With its theme parks back open, earnings rose to US$0.80/share, excluding some items, compared with the $0.55c average of analysts’ estimates. Revenue also soared, reflecting the return of tourists after the Covid-related shutdown, beating estimates of $16.8-billion.

The direct-to-consumer division, home to the streaming business, narrowed its loss in the period as sign-ups and revenue grew. Last month, Netflix reported a drop in North American subscribers and issued a disappointing forecast for the current quarter, raising investor concerns.

The world’s largest entertainment company is rebounding from the pandemic, which shut its theme parks around the world, idled cruised ships and crimped attendance at movie theatres for much of the past year. The big increase in revenue reflects the reopening of Disney’s parks.

The company’s TV division reported lower profit, with costs for returning sports programmes weighing on results. Revenue rebounded, thanks to increases in advertising and higher fees from pay-TV providers for channels such as ABC and ESPN.

Disney shares rose as much as 5% to $188.20 in after-market trading. The stock has lost 1% this year through to the close on Thursday in New York, compared to a 19% gain for the S&P 500. – © 2021 NewsCentral Media, with additional reporting © 2021 Bloomberg LP

Now read: BritBox launched in South Africa at R100/month

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