Streaming, a silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic for hard-hit media companies, will boost many fortunes in the coming years — none more so than Disney’s.
That’s the upshot of a new forecast by UK firm Digital TV Research. It sees Disney+ getting a big lift from COVID-19, which has kept millions of people indoors across the world, with the platform reaching 202 million global subscribers by 2025. That’s way up from the company’s previous outlook for 126 million, and well ahead of Disney’s own predicted range of 60 million to 90 million by 2024.
“We have completely revised our forecasts for 138 countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research. “A major impact of lockdown has been a steep rise in SVOD subscriptions.”
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Netflix, in the research firm’s view, will remain the global leader five years from now with 258 million subscribers. HBO Max and Apple TV+, notably, are predicted to be laggards in 2025, with 25 million and 14 million subscribers, respectively.
China, where Netflix and other U.S. firms are not permitted to operate, will remain a major force, with 269 million subscribers, according to Digital TV Research.
Last week, Disney said it had reached 54.5 million subscribers to Disney+ as of May 4. The service launched last November but has only recently reached the UK and Western Europe, with several key territories remaining to launch.
The burst of new streaming services, with five major ones launching between November and this month, has coincided with the stress of COVID-19, which has squeezed traditional companies. Netflix reported spectacular gains in subscribers in the first quarter of the year and is not encumbered by the assets weighing down traditional rivals like Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia during the pandemic.
Here’s the company’s forecast at a glance:
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