Disney+ hits 10 million subscribers in one day, but will they stay?
A day after the release of Disney+, the new streaming service from Disney, which features the entire Disney catalogue plus content from Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic, the company said it had hit 10 million subscribers. To put this number into some context, Netflix, a 22 year old company, has 150+ million subscribers, but perhaps more importantly, analysts projected that Disney+ would have anywhere between 10-18 million subscribers in its first year. Disney has signed up more than half of those projected numbers in 24 hours. That might lead to people questioning whether Disney is poised to be more successful than other streaming competitors, including Netflix, but I don’t think that’s really a fair comparison or even the right one to make at this time.
Here’s how I’m thinking about it: if Disney couldn’t reach 10 million subscribers in a day, what does that say about the rest of the video streaming space?
Well, for starters, if I was any other company that’s planning to enter the space, I’d be concerned if Disney+ didn’t have good out of the gate numbers. This is Disney after all. Disney has a long and storied history–the company is 96 years old, it’s a massive brand with a ton of content under its belt and when you pair the fact that Disney now owns two mega franchises in Star Wars and Marvel, anything less than 10 million subscribers on day one would seem underwhelming (I think). Aside from that, it’s pretty much the perfect moment for Disney+ to launch into the world. Millennials who grew up with a steady stream (pardon my pun) Disney movies now are in a position to shell out the $7/month to relive their childhood and possibly introduce the content they grew up with to their children.
The fact that Disney also owns major franchises will help them expand their content offerings as is evidenced by The Mandalorian, a new live-action Star Wars show that is released weekly. This is the same formula that Disney will follow with Marvel as well, exclusive Disney+ shows from your favorite franchises. It’s a model that isn’t exactly new though, in fact, props to Reed Hastings and his team at Netflix for seeing this coming for quite some time and investing heavily in its own original content too with hits like Orange Is The New Black, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, etc. Netflix is also a huge believer in using data to inform content decisions and it’s worked for them to date, I suspect data with play a role at Disney+ but I’d be curious as to how much being that the company has been creating content for nearly 100 years–definitely something to keep an eye on.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the number of paying subscribers. Remember that Disney struck deals with Verizon to provide Disney+ free of charge for an entire year to Verizon customers, so in that 10 million number is a chunk of people who aren’t paying yet. While Disney+ has a ton of content, most of it is content from my childhood, which is fine if I’m feeling nostalgic, but I’m fairly certain nostalgia isn’t enough to keep people around and paying. That being said, a number of new shows have been announced to be released next year and I’m sure they will be hits since many of them feature popular characters or were birthed from loved franchises.
I’m sure Disney+ will be hugely successful, but the fact we’re touting it hitting 10 million subscribers in one day is a surprise to me, it shouldn’t be such a shock, it should be expected. After all, we’re talking about a hundred year old company that has touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people over its existence.