Amazon launches mobile-only Prime Video subscription in India

Amazon is doubling down on one of the biggest strengths of Prime Video streaming service: Aggressive pricing.

The e-commerce giant on Wednesday launched Prime Video Mobile Edition, an even more affordable tier of the on-demand video streaming service — now also bundling additional perks.

Prime Video Mobile Edition, for which Amazon has partnered with Indian telecom network Airtel, will feature 28-day mobile-only, single-user, standard definition (SD) access to customers in India for Rs 89 ($1.22). This tier will also include 6GB of mobile data that customers can consume during the subscription period. To anyone who subscribes to Prime Video Mobile Edition, Amazon says it will pick the tab for the first month.

Amazon Prime subscription costs $1.7 a month in India and includes access to Prime Video and Prime Music.

The new Prime Video plan is currently only available in India. Its launch comes two years after Netflix unveiled a similar plan in India.

Affordable pricing is key for on-demand steaming services that are looking to make inroads in India, the world’s second largest internet market. Even as more than 700 million users are online in the country today, only a fraction of them currently pay to access digital subscriptions. In a recent report to clients, analysts at Goldman Sachs estimated that gaming, and video streaming market in India could clock as much as $5 billion in gross value transactions by FY25.

“India is one of our fastest growing territories in the world with very high engagement rates. Buoyed by this response, we want to double-down by offering our much-loved entertainment content to an even larger base of Indian customers. Given high mobile broadband penetration in the country, the mobile phone has become one of the most widely used streaming devices,” said Jay Marine, Vice President, Amazon Prime Video Worldwide, in a statement.

Airtel is the first roll-out partner for Prime Video Mobile Edition, and it suggested that it may tie up with other telecom giants as it looks forward to “expanding the reach of our service to the entire pre-paid customer base in India,” said Sameer Batra, Director, Mobile Business Development at Amazon. No word on when or whether Amazon plans to extend Prime Video Mobile Edition outside of India.

More to follow…

Nielsen says ‘The Office’ was the most popular streaming series of 2020

Because streaming services only release viewership numbers selectively, and because each one uses its own methodology, it can be hard to compare the popularity of different streaming shows and movies.

So Nielsen, which provides the standard ratings for traditional TV (and is working to combine those ratings with streaming data), is offering some apples-to-apples comparison today at CES by releasing its own lists of the most popular streaming content in 2020, across Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu.

These lists are limited to U.S. viewership. And unlike Nielsen’s linear ratings, they don’t just reflect the total number of people watching, but focus instead on the total number of minutes watched. That also makes for a striking contrast with the ratings that Netflix releases, which count the number of households who watched at least two minutes of a program, but don’t distinguish between someone who watches two minutes versus two hours versus 20 hours.

Still, the TV series lists are absolutely dominated by Netflix, while Disney+ puts in a good showing on the movies list. The other services don’t crack any of the three Top 10 lists.

On the original series side, the surprising winner (at least, surprising to me) was Netflix’s “Ozark,” with 30.5 billion minutes streamed, followed by “Lucifer” (19.0 billion minutes) and “The Crown” (16.3 billion minutes). “Tiger King,” which seems like one of the defining hits of the pandemic, came in at number four, with 15.7 billion minutes streamed — though Nielsen’s methodology puts it at a disadvantage, since it only has eight episodes. The same could probably be said for “The Mandalorian,” the first non-Netflix series on the list, with 14.5 billion minutes streamed.

Nielsen 2020 list

Image Credits: Nielsen

The numbers were even bigger for acquired series — all of them streaming on Netflix last year, although the number one show, “The Office” (57.1 billion minutes streamed) just moved to Peacock. The other shows in the top five are “Grey’s Anatomy” (39.4 billon minutes), “Criminal Minds” (35.4 billion minutes), “NCIS” (28.1 billion minutes) and “Schitt’s Creek” (23.8 billion minutes).

On the movie side, the biggest title was “Frozen II,” which came early to Disney+ and was streamed for 14.9 billion minutes, followed by “Moana” (Disney+, 10.5 billion minutes), “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Netflix, 9.1 billion minutes), “Onward” (Disney+, 8.4 billion minutes) and “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” (6.2 billion minutes). This seems to be a category where family films have advantage, perhaps because kids are more likely to watch them multiple times.

Beyond releasing these lists, Nielsen is announcing a new product designed to measure viewership of theatrical video on-demand, a.k.a. movies that are released for rent or purchase online. While studios should already have access to basic purchase data for these titles, Nielsen says it can provide “the entire media food chain” with more detailed information about things like the age, gender, ethnicity and geographic territory of who’s watching.

In a statement, Nielsen’s general manager of audience measurement Scott N. Brown said:

As this unprecedented pandemic continues to influence consumer behavior, perhaps even through a prolonged state of recovery waves, being able to measure and help clients appropriately monetize new revenue streams has never been more crucial. A bigger question might be what will audiences do following any recovery, how the behavior adopted during stay-at-home orders might influence habits when consumers have the ability to go back to theaters to enjoy that experience and how content creators will leverage data to make the best decisions regarding distribution platforms in the future.

 

Original Content podcast: ‘The Mandalorian’ season two goes deep into Star Wars mythology

“The Mandalorian” just wrapped up its second season on Disney+, with an action-packed and surprise-filled finale.

In many ways, it feels like a seamless continuation of the first season’s storylines, with the titular bounty hunter searching for a Jedi who can take responsibility for the alien moppet known to the internet as Baby Yoda, while the pair is pursued by the sinister Moff Gideon.

But as we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, where the first season of “The Mandalorian” felt accessible to anyone, regardless of their level of Star Wars fandom, season two deepens its ties to the rest of the fictional universe.

That includes bringing in live action versions of characters from the animated “Clone Wars” series, as well as setting up the many other Star Wars shows that are in the works for Disney+. This approach prompted very different responses from your podcast hosts — Darrell was delighted since he understood all the Ester Eggs, Jordan was exhausted trying to keep up and Anthony was happy to let many of the references go over his head.

At least the show’s other virtues remain intact, with enjoyably grungy and tactile space opera settings, spectacular big budget battles and an adorable baby Jedi.

In addition to reviewing “The Mandalorian,” we also discuss HBO Max’s arrival on Roku (which somehow prompts Anthony to explain his disappointment in the new Christopher Nolan movie “Tenet”), and Darrell and Jordan offer their latest thoughts on “The Bachelorette.”

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
4:14 HBO Max/”Tenet” discussion
13:35 “The Bachelorette” discussion
28:42 “The Mandalorian” Season 2 review
50:40 “The Mandalorian” spoiler discussion

Disney+ has plans for 10 Marvel shows and 10 Star Wars shows in the next few years

Disney just wrapped up the first segment of an investor day in which it laid out its plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming business, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar/Star.

The company kicked off the presentation with some new subscriber numbers — 86.8 million for Disney+ (roughly 30% of those are subscribers to Disney+ Hotstar, which leveraged an existing streaming service in India), 38.8 million for Hulu and 11.5 million for ESPN+, adding up to more than 137 million subscribers across the company’s streaming business.

The rest of the event is expected to focus on content announcements and previews, but Chairman of Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniels has already hinted at big plans for the next “few years.”

While high-profile Disney+’s originals have largely been limited to “The Mandalorian” and “Hamilton” in year one, Daniels said the company has plans to launch 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar series and 15 Disney Animation/Disney live action/Pixar feature films exclusively on Disney+.

At the same time, Daniels said that Disney remains committed to a variety of distribution strategies, particularly “theatrical exhibition’s ability to establish major franchises.”

He also announced that the Disney Animation film “Raya and the Dragon” will follow the same distribution strategy as “Mulan” this fall, with the film launching simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ as a Premier Access release that subscribers will need to pay extra to see.

The presentation also made it clear that the Hotstar/Star brand will be key to Disney’s international growth plans. In Latin America, the company plans to launch a standalone Star+ service, while a new Star section in the Disney+ app will become the home to “general entertainment” content (basically, the kinds of content that U.S. viewers will find on Hulu) in other markets like Europe.

Adding a Star section will mean introducing mature content to Disney+, which was previously limited to family-friendly content. So Disney also offered a quick demonstration of new parental controls that will allow subscribers to turn access to more mature content on and off — that should also introduce new content to other parts of Disney+, for example bringing the R-rated film “Logan” to the Marvel section.

You can also expect to see more integrations between different Disney streaming services. For example, Star+ will include content from ESPN, while Hulu will introduce the ability to subscribe and watch ESPN+ content directly in the app.

And if you’re a subscriber to the Disney bundle, which combines Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month, the company plans to add a new tier in January that offers ad-free Hulu for an extra $6 per month.

Update: And now we have some details on those shows. On the Star Wars side, they include two series developed by “Mandalorian” executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni — “Rangers of the New Republic” and a spinoff focused on Ahsoka Tano, the beloved “Clone Wars” character who recently made the jump to live action on “The Mandalorian.” Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy said the three shows will come together in a “climactic storytelling event.”

There will also tbe previously announced shows focused on “Rogue One” character Cassian Andor and on Obi-Wan Kenobi — the latter will see the return not just of Ewan McGregor, but also Hayden Christiansen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy. Plus, a Lando Calrissian series is in the works, as well as “The Acolyte,” a series from “Russian Doll”‘s Leslye Headland.

Kennedy also announced that the next theatrically released Star Wars film will be a Rogue Squadron movie directed by “Wonder Woman”‘s Patty Jenkins, due for release on Christmas 2023.

Beyond Star Wars, Lucasfilm is also developing a “Willow” series with Jon M. Chu, plus an adaptation of Tomi Adeyemi’s “Childen of Blood and Bone.” And it plans to start production on the much-delayed fifth Indiana Jones film next spring, with James Mangold directing and Harrison Ford returning, due for release in July 2022.

Non-Marvel, non-Star Wars Disney+ live action shows in development include a “Mighty Ducks” sequel with Emilio Estevez and Lauren Graham, a “Turner and Hooch” reboot and a “Swiss Family Robinson” reboot from Chu and acclaimed “Battlestar Galactica” rebooter Ron Moore.

Hulu and FX had a few announcements of their own as well, including a fifth season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and an “Alien” series from Noah Hawley.

Disney will also continue reviving its classic animation titles, with Disney+ Originals including a new version of “Pinocchio” directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, a new version of “Peter Pan and Wendy” and “Sister Act 3” with Whoopi Goldberg.’

And Pixar has three series coming to Disney+, starting with the “Up” spinoff “Dug Days” next fall, followed by a “Car” series and an original show called “Win or Lose.”

Updating

Disney will fuel international growth with Star brand and Star+ app

Disney+, the on-demand streaming service that launched a year ago and has already courted over 86 million subscribers, is ready to expand to more international markets.

At its annual investor day Thursday, the American entertainment giant announced a new streaming brand called “Star” that will feature content from ABC, FX, and 20th Century Studios.

In some markets, such as Europe, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, Star will be unveiled to customers as a new hub within Disney+ app beginning February 20 next year, the company said. It will expand Star to more markets next year, though it did not identify those markets.

But it will come at a price: The company said it will be increasing the price of Disney+ to £8.99 in Europe. In other markets where Star will be included within Disney+, the tariff will be adjusted accordingly, the company said.

In Latin America, Star will be a standalone streaming service and offered under the brand name “Star+.” Star+ will launch in Latin America in June 2021, and will feature general entertainment movies and television shows as well as a lineup of live sports including soccer and tennis.

Today’s announcement appears to be an admission that Hulu, a streaming service also owned by Disney that has amassed about 39 million subscribers, will never go international.

Disney also hinted that it plans to expand Disney+ Hotstar, an on-demand streaming service it currently offers in India and Indonesia, to more markets, but it did not name those markets. The company said today that Disney+ Hotstar account for roughly 30% of Disney+’s subscriber base, which roughly translates to 26 million. Disney+ Hotstar had about 18 million subscribers at the end of September, Disney revealed last month.

More to follow…

Streamers, including Netflix and CBS All Access, roll out new family-friendly features

As competition in the streaming service market heats up, services are looking for ways to differentiate their offerings. One area of increased interest — especially in light of fierce competition from newcomer Disney+ — is how to make their services more family-friendly. On this front, Netflix today announced the rollout of new features for families, the Kids Activity Report and Family Profiles, while CBS All Access added a Kids Mode and other updates aimed at families.

Streamers for years have marketed their services toward families with children, not only because these customers will often pay for higher-priced tiers offering more simultaneous logins, but also because strong kids’ entertainment offerings helps to keep subscribers loyal.

Netflix has led on this front with investments in children’s programming and longtime support for parental controls, a “Kids” profile and more.

Today, the company says it’s testing new features to better improve the Netflix experience.

One is a new Kids Activity Report that provides parents with information about what their kids are streaming on Netflix.

Image Credits: Netflix

This includes information about the child’s recently watched shows and interests, as well as suggested conversation topics and activities — like coloring pages or jokes — that parents can use to engage kids further. This could help those families where parents may not be clued in as to how kids are spending their time on Netflix — like those where the kids often watch independently or on their own device, for example.

It also arrives at a time when families are stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited the options for kids’ entertainment, leading to increased screen time. A feature that turns something parents worry about — too much screen time — into offline activities for family engagement could help this increased Netflix usage been seen in a more positive light.

Image Credits: Netflix

Netflix says the report, which is sent via email, is being tested globally in select markets.

Another test involves a Family Profile, which focuses on helping family members find programming they can all watch together. Like other profiles, the Family Profile would be accessed from the main screen with its own icon and maintain its own recommendations and watch lists, separate from an individual’s own profile.

Image Credits: Netflix

Unlike a kids’ user profile, which has a specific age range depending on the settings, the Family Profile would feature a selection of titles that extend up to PG-13 for movies and TV-14 for shows.

This content can still be surprisingly hard to find these days, as much of what some streamers consider “family” viewing are titles that are actually aimed at little kids — titles that are often painful for full-grown adults to sit through, that is. Family-friendly profiles could instead include less of this preschool fare, perhaps and more of popular family titles like the recent hit, “Enola Holmes.”

Netflix suggested you also might find titles like the upcoming animated short “Canvas,” animated special “A Trash Truck Christmas” or live action family movie “We Can Be Heroes,” on a Family profile.

Image Credits: Netflix

This test is also running globally, but only on the TV, Netflix says.

The Verge first reported on the tests.

“We’re always looking for new ways to improve the Netflix experience for members of all ages,” a Netflix spokesperson told TechCrunch about its new features. “We run these tests in different countries and for different periods of time — and only make them broadly available if people find them useful,” they said.

Of course, new family features could also help Netflix overcome some of the customer backlash against its service following the “Cuties” scandal earlier this year.

The French film and award winner was meant to be social commentary on the hypersexualization of children, but was condemned for exploiting children instead, possibly even denting Netflix subscriber growth. (The controversy was heavily tied to the QAnon #SavetheChildren conspiracy, too, though not all customers objecting to the film knew they were participating in the broader movement driven by QAnon.)

Netflix was not the only streamer to launch family-friendly features today.

In addition, CBS All Access today announced the rollout of new family-friendly features of its own. However, it’s playing catch-up with other streamers with its launches.

Image Credits: CBS All Access

The company says it will add a new feature that allows families to create up to six profiles per account and manage those using a “Kids Mode” option. This allows parents to create profiles that limit content to younger and older children based on content ratings. In addition, the service’s existing parental controls (the PIN-based controls) will also be available across these new profiles.

The features arrived alongside the addition of nearly 800 more episodes of kids’ content, including Nick Jr. favorites like “Paw Patrol,” “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Bubble Guppies,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Shimmer and Shine,” and others. The service already had more than 1,000 episodes of children’s programming before the new shows arrived, including “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Danger Mouse,” “Lassie,” “George of the Jungle” and “Mr. Magoo.” A SpongeBob spinoff, “Kamp Koral,” will arrive next year, along with “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.”

In related news, a top streaming platform, Fire TV, is also looking to better serve multi-person households and families with its latest changes.

Image Credits: Amazon

Fire TV today offers a platform for engaging with streaming apps, games and other content, but organizes this into an interface complete with tailored recommendations and other features. Its redesign, first announced in September, rolls out starting today.

The update brings a brand-new look-and-feel to Fire TV, which now reorganizes the navigation and improves how it makes recommendations. But one of the bigger changes is that Fire TV users — including kids — will now each get their own profile for a more personalized experience.

All the updates are rolling out starting today. Netflix’s tests, however, won’t reach all users at this time.

Discovery will launch its own streaming service on January 4

Discovery is the latest media company to launch a standalone streaming service — and the latest to adopt the simple naming strategy of just adding a plus sign — with discovery+, set to launch in the United States on January 4, 2021.

While Discovery doesn’t have the name recognition of (say) Disney/Disney+, it’s pitching the service as “the definitive streaming service for the best real life entertainment in the world,” with 55,000 episodes at launch drawn from Discovery networks like HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. It’s also struck a deal with A&E Networks to feature content from A&E, The History Channel and Lifetime.

And of course there will be original programming, including several “90 Day Fiancé” spinoffs, the U.S. premiere of the BBC series “A Perfect Planet,” a topiary competition series (with Martha Stewart as lead judge) called “Clipped,” a Kevin Hart travel show with the working title “Route 66” and much more.

Discovery+ also has a first look deal with Magnolia Network, a joint venture with “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Johanna Gaines. And it will feature original content from Discovery-backed digital media company Group Nine, whose brands include The Dodo, NowThis and Thrillist.

While the big U.S. launch isn’t happening until January, discovery+ actually launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland through a deal with Sky last month, and the company plans to launch across 21 markets in 2021. For European viewers, the service will be the streaming home of the Olympics, starting with next year’s event in Tokyo.

In the U.S., discovery+ will cost $4.99 per month, or $6.99 per month to go ad-free. Discovery is also announcing a partnership with Verizon to offer up to 12 months (depending on the plan) of free discovery+ access to select wireless and home internet subscribers. (Verizon owns TechCrunch.)

In a statement, Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav said:

We have been working methodically the past two years to bring all of our strategic advantages to the launch of discovery+, including distribution and advertising partnerships around the world, a world-class offering of quality brands, authentic personalities and the largest content library at launch, as well as a broad slate of exclusive programming. With discovery+, we are seizing the global opportunity to be the world’s definitive product for unscripted storytelling, providing households and mobile consumers a distinct, clear and differentiated offering across valuable and enduring lifestyle, and real life verticals.

 

Flexible expressions could lift 3D-generated faces out of the uncanny valley

3D-rendered faces are a big part of any major movie or game now, but the task of capturing and animated them in a natural way can be a tough one. Disney Research is working on ways to smooth out this process, among them a machine learning tool that makes it much easier to generate and manipulate 3D faces without dipping into the uncanny valley.

Of course this technology has come a long way from the wooden expressions and limited details of earlier days. High resolution, convincing 3D faces can be animated quickly and well, but the subtleties of human expression are not just limitless in variety, they’re very easy to get wrong.

Think of how someone’s entire face changes when they smile — it’s different for everyone, but there are enough similarities that we fancy we can tell when someone is “really” smiling or just faking it. How can you achieve that level of detail in an artificial face?

Existing “linear” models simplify the subtlety of expression, making “happiness” or “anger” minutely adjustable, but at the cost of accuracy — they can’t express every possible face, but can easily result in impossible faces. Newer neural models learn complexity from watching the interconnectedness of expressions, but like other such models their workings are obscure and difficult to control, and perhaps not generalizable beyond the faces they learned from. They don’t enable the level of control an artist working on a movie or game needs, or result in faces that (humans are remarkably good at detecting this) are just off somehow.

A team at Disney Research proposes a new model with the best of both worlds — what it calls a “semantic deep face model.” Without getting into the exact technical execution, the basic improvement is that it’s a neural model that learns how a facial expression affects the whole face, but is not specific to a single face — and moreover is nonlinear, allowing flexibility in how expressions interact with a face’s geometry and each other.

Think of it this way: A linear model lets you take an expression (a smile, or kiss, say) from 0-100 on any 3D face, but the results may be unrealistic. A neural model lets you take a learned expression from 0-100 realistically, but only on the face it learned it from. This model can take an expression from 0-100 smoothly on any 3D face. That’s something of an over-simplification, but you get the idea.

Computer generated faces all assume similar expressions in a row.

Image Credits: Disney Research

The results are powerful: You could generate a thousand faces with different shapes and tones, and then animate all of them with the same expressions without any extra work. Think how that could result in diverse CG crowds you can summon with a couple clicks, or characters in games that have realistic facial expressions regardless of whether they were hand-crafted or not.

It’s not a silver bullet, and it’s only part of a huge set of improvements artists and engineers are making in the various industries where this technology is employed — markerless face tracking, better skin deformation, realistic eye movements, and dozens more areas of interest are also important parts of this process.

The Disney Research paper was presented at the International Conference on 3D Vision; you can read the full thing here.

Google brings ‘The Mandalorian’ to AR in its new app

Google has teamed up with Disney and Lucasfilm to bring the Star Wars streaming series “The Mandalorian” to augmented reality. The company announced this morning the launch of a new Android AR app,  “The Mandalorian” AR Experience, which will display iconic moments from the first season of the show in AR, allowing fans to retrace the Mandalorian’s steps, find the Child, harness the Force, and more, according to the app’s Play Store description.

In the app, users will be able to follow the trail of Mando, Din Djarin and the Child, interact with the characters, and create scenes that can be shared with friends.

New AR content will be released for the app on Mondays, starting today Nov. 23 and continuing for nearly a year to wrap on Oct. 31, 2021. That makes this a longer-term promotion than some of the other Star Wars experiences Google has offered in the past.

Image Credits: Google/Lucasfilm

Meanwhile, the app itself takes advantage of Google’s developer platform for building augmented reality experiences, ARCore, in order to create scenes that interact with the user’s surroundings. This more immersive design means fans will be able to unlock additional effects based on their actions. The app also leverages Google’s new ARCore Depth API, which allows the app to enable occlusion. This makes the AR scenes blend more naturally with the environment that’s seen through the smartphone’s camera.

However, because the app is a showcase for Google’s latest AR technologies, it won’t work with all Android devices.

Google says the app will only support “compatible 5G Android devices,” which includes its 5G Google Pixel smartphones and other select 5G Android phones that have the Google Play Services for AR updated. You can check to see if your Android phone is supported on a list provided on the Google Developers website. Other phones may be supported in the future, the company also notes.

Image Credits:

While the experience requires a 5G-capable Android device, Google says that you don’t have to be on an active 5G connection to use the app. Instead, the requirement is more about the technologies these devices include and not the signal itself.

Google has teamed up with Lucasfilm many times over the past several years for promotional marketing campaigns. These are not typically considered ads, because they give both companies the opportunity to showcase their services or technologies. For example, Google allowed users to give its apps a Star Wars-themed makeover back in 2015, which benefited its own services like Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Chrome and others. It has also introduced both AR and VR experiences featuring Star Wars content over the past several years.

The  “The Mandalorian” AR Experience” is a free download on the Play Store.

Disney+ has more than 73M subscribers

Disney+, the streaming service that launched one year ago today, grew to 73.7 million paid subscribers as of early October.

That’s according to The Walt Disney Company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, which covers the company’s finances through October 3. The company previously said Disney+ had 60.5 million subscribers as of August 3.

The release also includes subscriber numbers for Disney’s other streaming services — Hulu had 36.6 million (including 4.1 million subscribers to Hulu + Live TV), while ESPN had 10.3 million (more than doubling from 3.5 million a year earlier).

Overall, Disney’s direct-to-consumer segment saw revenue grow 41% year-over-year to $4.9 billion, while its operating loss fell from $751 million in Q4 2019 to $580 million this year. Disney attributed the shrinking losses to “improved results at Hulu and ESPN+, partially offset by higher costs at Disney+, driven by the ongoing rollout.”

It was a tough quarter for Disney overall, with the pandemic forcing the company to keep some parks closed and the rest operating at reduced capacity. Disney’s revenue fell to $14.7 billion (compared to $19.1 billion during Q4 2019), with a loss of $0.39 per share.

“The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year,” said CEO Bob Chapek in a statement.

During the investor call, Chapek also noted that Disney+ is currently available in more than 20 countries worldwide, with plans to launch in Latin America on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, earlier today, Disney+ pushed the premiere date of its first Marvel series, “Wandavision,” from December until January 15.