Disney Plus emerges as early winner of streaming wars

A scene from “The Mandalorian,” an original Star Wars TV series streamed on Disney +.

Source: Disney

Disney said Thursday night that Disney + will have 230 to 260 million subscribers by 2024. It shows the rapid growth of Disney + and that Disney is emerging as one of the early winners of the streaming wars.

Disney stock closed 13.59% on Friday after briefly hitting an all-time high earlier in the day.

When Disney + first launched 13 months ago, Disney expected the platform to reach 60 to 90 million subscriptions by 2024. Then the streaming platform quickly took off. By Thursday night, it had already hit the high end of that projection with 86.8 million Disney + subscribers.

It’s a formidable destination, especially as competition in space has only increased. Apple TV +, Netflix, HBO Max from AT&T, Peacast from Comcast, Paramount + from ViacomCBS, and AMC Plus from AMC Networks compete for eyeballs. David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, who recently announced Discovery’s premium service Discovery +, recently announced to CNBC that the winners and losers of the streaming wars will be revealed over the next 12 to 24 months.

Here’s a quick rundown of Disney +’s rapid growth: Ten million people signed up on day one, with a total of 26.5 million subscribers in fiscal first quarter. Disney + rose from 33.5 million subscribers in the second quarter to 57.5 million in the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, the company said it had exceeded 73.7 million subscribers.

Some of these subscribers came to service through bundles or one-time promotions, such as a partnership with Verizon that offered customers a year of Disney +, although Disney does not break these numbers down.

For comparison: Netflix reported 195.15 million subscribers in the third quarter. Earlier this week, AT&T CEO John Stankey said there are now 12.6 million HBO Max subscribers.

Disney has invested heavily in its direct customer business as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to keep millions of people at home and in need of entertainment. The company will continue to rely on original content, with new shows and films likely to attract even more subscribers.

CEO Bob Chapek said on Disney Investor Day Thursday that of the 100 or so projects announced, around 80% will go directly to Disney +. With Disney, users can opt for more mature content, allowing older viewers to see titles like “Atlanta” and “Modern Family”. This could also help attract more subscribers.

Disney plans to increase the cost of the service to $ 7.99, an increase of $ 1.

Disney added that it expects its family of streaming services, which include Disney +, Hulu, and ESPN +, to total 300-350 million subscriptions by fiscal 2024.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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