How Disney+ Gained Over 116 Million Subscribers So Quickly
Disney+ has reached a total of 116 million subscribers worldwide, beating analyst targets for Q3 2021. For years, Netflix has held the helm when it comes to subscriptions among streaming services, without any real competition.
But Disney+ has been adding millions of subscribers throughout the year and since its launch. With 116 million subscribers in less than two years, Disney+ is obviously doing something right… But how exactly did the Disney-owned streaming platform achieve this huge milestone?
This article will explore the different factors that have contributed to Disney+ reaching 116 million subscribers.
Tracking Disney+’s Impressive Growth to Date
Since launching, Disney+ has been vying for Netflix’s number one spot in terms of subscriber growth. Disney is one of Netflix’s biggest competitors, and we see why.
Disney+ launched in November 2019. Just one year after launching, the streaming service had reached 73 million subscribers. Just a few months later, in March 2021, Disney had more than 100 million subscribers, staying hot on Netflix’s heels.
In less than two years since launching, Disney+ has reached 116 million subscribers. That’s impressive, considering Netflix has been around since 1997 and has 209 million subscribers, and Disney+ is just one of the new kids on the block.
What Factors Have Led to Disney+’s 116 Million-Subscriber Milestone?
Apart from the opportunities for growth presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the obvious reason that Disney+ has the backing of parent company Walt Disney (a formidable company in the entertainment space), as well as its recognizable and well-loved content, there are several more factors responsible for Disney+’s recent major milestone.
Here’s what helped Disney+ get to 116 million subscribers.
Disney+’s Recent Market Expansion in Asia, With Launches in Malaysia and Thailand
Disney+ recently expanded its market in Asia with the arrival of Disney+ Hotstar in Malaysia and Thailand in June, following its launch in India and Indonesia in 2020. Thailand is the fourth country in Southeast Asia to have access to the streaming service, following Indonesia, Singapore, and most recently, Malaysia.
The streaming service in Asia gives users access to Disney’s popular content brands, such as Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Disney+ Hotstar subscribers also have access to recent Disney+ original series from the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, including WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the Loki TV series.
As for films, subscribers have access to premium video-on-demand (VOD) sales of major movie releases, such as Cruella, Black Widow, and Jungle Cruise. Besides these popular titles, Hotstar also features local content through partnerships with multiple Asian studios.
Plus, with the Walt Disney Company announcing at the company’s Q3 earnings call that Disney+ will launch in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in November 2021, this will only further boost Disney+’s subscriber count in Asia.
Lower Subscription Cost in Asian Markets
In addition to Disney+’s expansion into the Asian market having led to more subscribers for Disney+, this could have been significantly aided by a significantly lower price point in these regions.
Take, for instance, the cost of Disney+ in Thailand. On Disney+ Hotstar, subscribers pay BHT 99 for a monthly subscription, which converts to $2,97, and an annual subscription for BHT 799, which is $23,95.
That’s less than half of what it costs in the US, at $8 a month or $80 per year.
There are different packages available on AIS, Thailand’s other option for accessing Disney+ content, with the monthly package costing BHT 199. That amount converts to $5,96—again, significantly lower than the US’ $8 a month price point.
These lower prices have possibly made Disney+ accessible to the Asian market. In Q3, Disney reportedly had a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, proving that subscriptions are growing in this market.
Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer Strategy Through Hulu and ESPN
Disney+’s expansion in the Asian market isn’t the only factor that has led to Disney+’s growth in subscriptions.
Disney’s subscriber increase across its other services—mainly ESPN+ growing 75% year-over-year to reach 14.9 million customers, and total Hulu subscribers growing 21% to reach 42.8 million—could have also led to Disney+’s subscriber growth.
All in all, revenues grew 57% to $4.3 billion across Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, thanks to improved results from Hulu—including subscription growth and higher ad revenues.
As noted by CEO Bob Chapek in a Disney press release:
Our direct-to-consumer business is performing very well, with a total of nearly 174 million subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu at the end of the quarter, and a host of new content coming to the platform.
By now, you’re probably wondering how this affects Disney+’s subscriber growth. The answer is simple: There’s an option to buy a bundled package with Hulu and ESPN+, which costs $14 a month for all three services.
Individually, ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu each cost $6 a month. Subscribing to the bundle, rather than signing up for each service individually, saves you about $6 a month. Considering this, it is quite possible that viewers on this bundle have contributed to a growth in subscriptions for Disney+.
What Does the Future Look Like for Disney+?
Disney+ has been growing in leaps and bounds since its launch in 2019. Amassing nearly 120 million subscribers in less than two years is no easy feat, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting production and content release schedules, over and above everyday business challenges.
More importantly, the market is constantly growing with the likes of Paramount+ and more competitors emerging to get a share in this very lucrative industry.
And even though Netflix still leads the market in terms of subscriptions, and may continue to do so for some time, it is becoming increasingly clear that Disney+ is a worthy contender that may, one day, take Netflix’s streaming crown.
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August 25, 2021 at 10:50AM