OTT & Digital

Disney projecting up to 12m ESPN+ subscribers by 2024

US media giant estimating sports OTT service to turn a profit in four years.

by Steven Impey

Disney projecting up to 12m ESPN+ subscribers by 2024

ESPN+, the Disney-owned over-the-top (OTT) sports streaming service, could attract between 8 million to 12 million subscribers by the end of the 2024 financial year, the company has told investors.

Speaking during Disney’s investor day webcast last Thursday, chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said that whilst ESPN+ is expected to incur US$650 million annual losses for 2019 and 2020, the platform should reach profitability by 2023 as the US media giant ramps up its direct-to-consumer (DTC) offering.

During a quarterly investors’ call in February, McCarthy said that, while investment in its ESPN+ service “would have an adverse impact on operating income” of about a $100 million in the first quarter, the figures were slightly better than anticipated at the time.

Since Disney launched its ESPN+ service a year ago, it surpassed 2 million subscribers in only 10 months. The move signalled ESPN’s shift into the OTT sector following Disney’s acquisition of live streaming specialist BAMTech.

According to Reuters news agency, the financial analyst Morgan Stanley predicts that 2.7 million people to be paying for ESPN+ access by the end of fiscal 2019, growing to 3.9 million by the end of fiscal 2020 and 6.7 million by the end of 2022.

Disney has also announced plans to launch its very own Disney+ OTT entertainment service by November, a move many consider to be an attempt to rival US streaming giant Netflix.