The Disney+ video streaming service signed up 10 million subscribers after one day
. There is a seven-day free trial, so it is unknown how many of these were converted into paying customers. In addition, Disney has a promotion with Verizon that gives the carrier's unlimited customers one-free year of service. And there is no question that much of the low-hanging fruit (Disney fanatics) has already been plucked by the entertainment giant. But even if you want to be cynical about the quick start that Disney+ has had, there is no question that the video streamer is on the way to becoming a huge success.
According to the latest report from Apptopia
, the Disney+ app has been downloaded on 22 million mobile devices with 9.5 million using the app daily. And these figures could be understated because they do not include those viewing Disney+ on the web, or installed it on a set-top box like Apple TV. And while we proclaimed the streamer as a threat to Netflix
, some readers disagreed. Another person who disagrees is Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. "We have to continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is make the best content and deliver it seamlessly," Sarandos said. "I think the bigger you are, the more distractions you have to your core business, the more likely you can’t move as quickly as we’ve been able to through our history. The new set of competitors is actually just the old set of competitors."
Disney undercut Netflix on price, a very un-Disneyesque thing for the company to do
While Netflix's content appeals to a wider range of consumers, Disney does have some advantages. Tens of millions of people visit Disney's theme parks every year where they will be bombarded with ads for Disney+. In addition, Disney is going to end up distributing two of the biggest films this year; Frozen 2, and The Rise of Skywalker. Both of these films will stream first on Disney+. Every hit Disney has in the theaters could add many new subscribers to the service.
In a tactic unusual for the company, Disney undercut Netflix when it priced its video streamer. For $6.99 a month ($69.99 for 12 months), subscribers can add up to ten members to their account with four screens allowed to use the service at one time. And this includes 4K streaming. A similar plan costs Netflix subscribers nearly $15 a month.
Disney hopes to sign up fans of its older hit Disney Channel shows, some of which will be rebooted
There is plenty of competition in the video streaming industry and it is going to get worse. Consider that Netflix reportedly paid $100 million this year just to keep Friends before HBO Max gets the classic sitcom on an exclusive basis for the next five years (for which it paid a reported $425 million). And Netflix will also lose The Office to NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service in 2021. Peacock is scheduled to launch next spring and getting the exclusive streaming rights to the show for five years was part of a deal believed to cost $500 million. To justify spending such sums on programming, these streamers have to believe that they will be signing up a large number of subscribers. However, there is only a limited amount of money that consumers have to spend on such subscriptions.
Disney's hot start might not have Netflix executives sweating, but there is no denying that Disney is going to be a player in this industry. Banking firm Credit Suisse raised its estimates last week
and now expects Disney+ to snag 20 million subscribers by the end of the first quarter of 2020, up from the 14.3 million they previously forecast. Credit Suisse noted that downloads of the app have "settled at a reasonable level" and the number of Verizon customers signing up for the free-year has come in ahead of expectations.
Not everything Disney touches turns to gold (remember the original Tron?), but it certainly seems that the company has hit the mother lode with Disney+.