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5 things you need to know about those ‘explosive’ Disney+ numbers

5 things you need to know about those ‘explosive’ Disney+ numbers

Disney is to go all-in on its fledgling streaming service following a gushing presentation by chief exec Bob Chapek to investors at which the platform claimed 86.8 million subscribers.

Lauding the “explosive“ growth as exceeding its “wildest expectations“, Disney will strive to premiere new original content on Disney+ every week to maintain momentum.

The Drum explores the company’s latest figures and why it matters to the media and marketing industry.

1. Disney+ reached a new milestone

  • The 86.8 million global subscriber figure as of 2 December, just one year after its launch, places Disney+ just a hair’s breadth away from the 90 million upper estimate for subscribers that had been expected a further three years down the line.

  • The storming launch has powered mounting enthusiasm from executives, notably chief executive Bob Chapek himself who states that the “one of a kind service“ has exceeded Disney’s “wildest expectations“.

  • Rising tides across the whole streaming industry saw market leader Netflix add 2.2 million new subscribers over the third quarter – the smallest such increase recorded since 2016 – taking its total subscriber base to 195 million.

  • That slowdown came hot on the heels of the greatest growth spurt in the platform’s history when it added 15.77 million subscribers in the first three months and a further 10.09 million in the following quarter.

2. Now that it has proven its worth, prices are about to go up

  • Confident that it has a hit on its hands, an emboldened Disney will now jack up prices, with European customers expected to pay €8.99 a month in 2021, up from just €6.99 today.

  • Price rises are expected to follow in other territories, but existing customers will not be asked to pay more for six months.

3. Disney is launching a new international streaming service

  • Refusing to rest on its laurels, Disney will debut its new Star entertainment service on 23 Feb across selected European nations, Canada and New Zealand.

  • Star will be an ad-free subset of content within Disney+ as a sixth primary brand alongside Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, Disney Animation and Pixar.

  • Accessible from a separate brand tile within the app, Star will serve as a catch-all portal for all content falling outside the established main franchises, such as FX shows and films from 20th Century.

4. Overall, the company is getting very ambitious about its streaming plans

  • Flush with success, the sky is now the limit for future subscriber projections, with Disney forecasting anywhere between 230 million and 260 million sign-ups before 2024 is out.

  • With its theatrical business still in the doldrums, Disney has also pivoted toward its direct-to-consumer division, which generated a healthy $16.9bn in revenues through 2020 – well ahead of even the studio’s pre-Covid revenue of $11.1bn.

  • In a sign of the times, Disney has opted to skip theatrical releases for upcoming films such as Peter Pan & Wendy and Tom Hanks’s Pinocchio in favour of a Disney+ debut.

  • Disney is not alone in turning its back on theatres, with Warner Bros opting to screen its entire 2021 line-up on HBO Max in tandem with their theatrical schedule.

5. Disney is pursing both subscriber growth and ad revenue

  • Armed with its new found subscriber army, Disney is also targeting higher ad revenues with ad-supported content a la Hulu and ESPN+, capitalising on the slow decline of legacy networks.

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