Barely a year after a blockbuster launch in the U.S., Disney+ is now in dozens of global territories and has reached 86.8 million subscribers.
CEO Bob Chapek offered the new number at the start of the company’s four-hour investor presentation, hosted virtually from the company’s Burbank headquarters.
The total is a significant uptick from the 73.7 million as of October 3, a tally the company reported in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release last month. It reflects recent launches in Latin America, including major streaming territories like Brazil. About 30% of current subscribers pay for an offering called Disney+ Hotstar in India and Indonesia. That service was built on Hotstar, the streaming service operated by Star India that Disney inherited when it acquired most of the assets of 21st Century Fox.
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Hulu is up to 38.8 million total subscribers, while ESPN+ is at 11.5 million. Both got a lift from the introduction last year of a $13 bundle of the two of them along with Disney+. For just $6 more, in 2021, customers can get the ad-free version of Hulu.
Rebecca Campbell, Disney’s chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer, noted that the global rollout of Disney+ has yet to reach Eastern Europe, South Korea and Hong Kong but will be in those territories and some others in 2021.
Netflix, the global streaming leader, recently reported 195 million global subscribers as of the end of September. Along with other streaming players, it has benefited from Covid-19, which caused a “pull-forward” of 26 million subscribers in the first half of the year. It has also been streaming video since 2007, releasing originals since 2012 and has reached more than 200 countries and territories, including many with local-language programming.
Disney+ got off to a fast start when it launched in November 2019, drawing 10 million sign-ups on its first day. Its focused content offering and attractive price point of $7 a month, far lower than WarnerMedia’s HBO Max ($15 a month) or Netflix ($14 for its most popular tier). Along with Disney+ and HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Apple TV+ have joined the streaming fray over the past year.
While Disney+ has a platinum library of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, National Geographic and Disney titles, original programming is the main driver of customer acquisition in the streaming game. Even though Disney’s initial offerings were few in number, it had an ace original to throw on the table at launch: The Mandalorian. The Star Wars spinoff spearheaded by Jon Favreau, whose second season is currently unfolding with weekly episode drops, has ranked as the No. 3 streaming title in the U.S. in recent weeks, according to Nielsen.
Disney+ has also mobilized several feature films while theaters are closed during Covid-19, releasing Hamilton, Mulan and the upcoming Soul on Disney+ without a Stateside theatrical run. The company has never drawn a direct link between those premieres and bumps in subscribers, but third-party data indicates a connection, especially in the case of The Mandalorian.
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