With the whole world following strict quarantine measures due to the severity of the ongoing spread of the deadly coronavirus, home entertainment has seen a surge like it has never before. Content-hungry viewers who are forced to stay at home are entirely dependent on the video streaming services to get rid of their boredom. This lays a tremendous pressure on the already competitive market consisting of the popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Yet, the recent subscriber update made by Disney Plus has revealed its potential to become a worthy contender in this arena as well. On Wednesday, Disney Plus disclosed that they had surpassed 50 million paid subscribers since they launched in November. This is an incredible feat for Disney Plus, considering that the last time they disclosed their numbers in February, they only had 28.6 million subscribers.
Disney CFO Christine McCarthy had already noted during the investors call in February that the majority of their growth would be from international subscribers, and it proved to be true. The 22 million spike in Disney Plus subscribers is mainly due to its launch in the global market including the UK, India, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain and Switzerland. Although Disney delayed their launch in France, due to bandwidth concerns, the app is now available there as well. Cowen Media analyst Doug Creutz commented that considering how well the US launch went, this increase in subscribers was expected. On the other hand, Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger believed that the subscription numbers weren’t as massive as they appeared. He made this statement based on the conclusion that eight million of the new Disney Plus subscribers were passed on from the Hotstar service on whose platform, Disney Plus is available in India since last week.
When compared to Netflix and Amazon Prime, Disney Plus is much behind in terms of global subscriptions. Netflix had an addition of almost nine million subscribers last year, totalling to over 167 million paying subscribers globally. Amazon Prime too has over 150 million viewers worldwide. Even Hulu, Disney’s other streaming service operating only in the United States, has 30 million subscribers. Yet, Disney Plus is not threatened by this rivalry as its growth is much faster than expected. The boost in subscribers puts Disney one step ahead in fulfilling their target of 60 to 90 million subscribers by the end of the fiscal year 2024. Besides, according to a movie industry analyst, Disney was able to reach out to the market within just five months whereas it took Netflix seven years to do the same . One of the remarkable achievements that Disney was able to do was that they were able to tap into the Indian market where the Western media, especially Disney, has a low presence. Likewise, if Disney Plus were able to gain access to the 1.4 billion viewers of China, where no American streaming service has been able to get through, Disney Plus would easily be able to replace Netflix as the leading global streaming service.