Disney+ Shatters Expectations with 73 Million Subscribers in First Year

Netflix has some serious competition in the streaming game. Disney+ celebrated its one-year anniversary this week and Disney recently reported its quarterly earnings and, while there were some major rough patches in the company’s portfolio, streaming proved to be an enormous bright spot. Disney+ now has surpassed 73 million subscribers, shattering expectations and cementing itself as a major player in the future of the media landscape.

As of October 3, Disney+ has logged 73.7 million paying subscribers. That is truly impressive in just a year. Netflix is still the king of the hill with more than 195 million subscribers worldwide. But Netflix has had a decade to amass that kind of audience. Disney has managed to make up a lot of ground in just a year. Disney CEO Bob Chapek had this to say.

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“Even with the disruption… we’ve been able to effectively manage our businesses while also taking bold, deliberate steps to position our company for greater long-term growth. 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.”

What is perhaps most surprising is that Disney previously reported having 60.5 million subscribers in August. So the rate of growth here is pretty impressive. Not to mention that the company also has Hulu under its umbrella, which has 32 million subscribers, as well as ESPN+, which has over 10 million. That puts Disney in perhaps the best position, outside of Netflix, to carve out a piece of the future pie, which will be increasingly streaming-focused. The company’s stock rose more than five percent following the earnings report.

Disney+ offered a great deal of must-watch programming this year, starting with The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV show. They also debuted Hamilton, Beyonce’s Black Is King and played host to the live-action remake of Mulan, though subscribers had to pay an additional $30 to watch it. In any event, the programming lineup has been enough to generate sustained interest from consumers. And things are only going to get better from here, with Marvel shows such as WandaVision set to begin rolling out in January 2021.

With the Disney Parks business bleeding billions and the box office barely alive, this is good news for the Mouse House. It’s not surprising, looking at the numbers, that they recently decided to completely restructure their media business to prioritize streaming. That’s not to say they will abandon theatrical movies, but the number of titles they release in theaters will almost certainly decrease. And the ones that do get big theatrical releases will surely be the biggest of big blockbusters, such as Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar and live-action remakes of old classics. This news was previously reported by Variety.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb

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