Disney last night said its Disney Plus streaming service has racked up 100m users, as speculation grows that outgoing boss Bob Iger could be named US ambassador to Britain.
The US media giant said it had passed the milestone just 16 months after launching the platform. Netflix, which now has 200m users, took 10 years to hit the same target.
Chief executive Bob Chapek said the company was now ramping up its investment in new content, with plans to produce more than 100 new titles per year across its various divisions, which include Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
It came amid mounting speculation over the future of executive chairman Bob Iger, who will step down at the end of this year.
Asked if Iger was being considered as the next US ambassador to Britain, Joe Biden’s press secretary yesterday told reporters that the president had “not made any decisions”.
The veteran media executive, who has said he would consider a role in Biden’s administration, was previously tipped as a possible candidate as ambassador to China.
Iger, who stepped down as Disney chief executive last year, has been widely credited with the entertainment giant’s success in recent years.
During his tenure the company completed a slew of big-ticket acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars producer Lucasfilm.
Iger has also made himself rich in the process, regularly topping the charts as entertainment’s highest paid boss.
Abigail Disney, granddaughter of the company’s founder, branded Iger’s pay “insane” after he took home $65.6m in 2018. His pay dropped to $21m last year after he said he would forgo his salary due to the pandemic.
The businessman, who previously served as president of ABC, has also flirted with politics in the past, saying he “seriously considered” running for US president in 2020.
Disney has suffered a torrid year as the pandemic forced the closure of cinemas, theme parks and cruises. The company has laid off 32,000 employees as a result.
Disney Plus, which launched in the UK on the eve of the first coronavirus lockdown last year, has been the only bright spot for the company.
On a call with investors last night boss Chapek said the company hoped to reopen its California theme parks with limited attendance next month.
The firm is also banking on a comeback for cinemas this year, with plans to release Marvel film Black Widow in May.
Chapek said Disney planned to resume dividend payments, which were suspended at the start of the pandemic, “at some point” in the future.