One year after its launch, Disney+ has proven to be a great success for the Walt Disney Company. The streaming service reported 73.7 million paying subscribers by October 3 – a number that was reached before more people started or renewed their subscription for the second season of the hit The Mandalorian.
The Disney+ news is certainly a ray of hope for the company in an otherwise bleak year, when its theme parks and studio entertainment departments suffered huge losses due to the ongoing corona virus pandemic. The figure is also a dramatic improvement on the 60.5 million paying subscribers reported by Disney+ during the last profit announcement in early August. Disney’s other streamers also reported profits: Hulu reported 36.6 million paying subscribers (up from 35.5 million at the end of June), and ESPN+ increased its subscriber base from 8.5 million in the last quarter to 10.3 million.
“Even with the disruptions caused by COVID-19, we were able to effectively manage our business while taking bold, deliberate steps to position our company for greater long-term growth,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a statement of the published figures. “The real ray of hope was our direct-to-customer business, which is critical to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+, we are pleased to report that the service had more than 73 million paying subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter – far exceeding our expectations in its first year.
Disney+ launched today, November 12, exactly one year ago. That the service reached so many subscribers so quickly is especially remarkable when you consider that it took about a decade for Netflix to reach its current 195.2 million paying subscribers. (140.7 million people have Amazon Prime Video, although it is unclear who signed up for the service or has access to it through their Prime Membership because of the film and shows).
Besides “The Mandalorian”, other originals such as “Black Is King” by Beyonce and the filmed performance of “Hamilton” were big hits for the station, as well as the live-action version of “Mulan”, which did not make it to the cinemas due to the pandemic and premiered directly at Disney+. As with all streamers, it is generally assumed that the dramatic rise of Disney+ is at least partly due to the fact that people are spending more time consuming media at home because of the pandemic.
With the global company Star, which will be launched overseas in 2021, Disney intends to further expand its direct entertainment for the end consumer. The company has not yet released much information about the Star brand platform, including what countries it will be available in, what the pricing structure will be, or even the exact release date for the service. However, it said that Star, unlike Hulu, will not carry licensed content and will offer content from ABC, FX, Freeform, Searchlight and 20th Century Studios.
Further information about Star is expected to be announced during the company’s Investor Day on December 10 when it is expected to offer another update on Disney+.