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Disney Plus eyes the metaverse as subs slow down

Bob Chapek describes the metaverse as a "three-dimensional canvas" for new types of storytelling

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek has hinted at a virtual reality future for the company, telling investors he sees the metaverse as an extension of Disney Plus.

Disney becomes the latest Silicon Valley company to invoke the metaverse, following Facebook’s rebranding and Unity’s planned acquisition of Weta Digital. For Chapek, it offers a “three-dimensional canvas” for new types of storytelling.

During the company’s Q4 earnings call, he added that the pursuit of persistent 3D environments is the next stage in Disney’s history of technological innovation. “Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling, without boundaries in our own Disney Metaverse.”

The company also reported reaching 118.1 million Disney Plus subscribers, up 2.1 million from the end of Q3. A decline from the prior quarter’s 12 million new subscribers, the results are consistent with Chapek’s warning in September that the service would “hit some headwinds” in Q4.

At the time, the CEO told a Goldman Sachs event that company expects to add “low single-digit millions” of streaming subscribers in Q4, in part because of production delays from the delta variant halting the arrival of new programming to the platform.