Ever since Disney announced its Disney+ service in 2019, projecting, estimating and tracking Disney Plus subscribers has been an obsession for much of the media and Disney analysts. Despite a major cable business (anchored by ESPN) in a secular decline, Disney leadership was able to successfully pivot to the world of on-demand, streaming platforms with an extraordinarily successful launch of Disney+ in late 2019.
The success of the Disney+ streaming platform is widely watched in the industry for a number of reasons. First, Disney is one of the biggest and most important media and entertainment companies in the world. Disney has staked much of its future growth on the success of the direct-to-consumer platform.
Second, the launching of the platform has massive implications for much of the media world. For instance, it marks a notable shift away from the licensing business in which studios create content and sell it to as many outlets as possible in exchange for revenue. Instead, studios such as Disney are now keeping their own content in house in an effort to own the direct-to-consumer relationship.
Also, the shift has major implications for the movie theater industry. Will Disney shift more of its major movie releases straight to Disney+ and bypass the typical studio release? The coronavirus-related shutdown of much of the economy and especially the theater industry has accelerated this trend.
Lastly, Disney is attempting to scale up its direct-to-consumer business faster than its traditional media and cable business (led by ESPN) is declining. Disney is watched quite closely when it comes to monitoring the disintegrating of the traditional cable bundle.
So Disney+ is important. Both for Disney’s future and as barometer for much of the media landscape. Hence, the subscriber numbers are watched closely to see how quickly Disney can get consumers to opt into this new Disney service. So, let’s get to the latest Disney+ subscriber counts.
Latest Disney+ Subscriber CountDisney+ surpassed the 50,000,000 subscriber mark as of April 10, 2020.
Disney Plus Subscriber Growth
The following chart showcases the growth of Disney Plus subscribers over time.
The following chart showcases the growth of Disney Plus subscribers over time as compared to Netflix subscribers.
We have updated this article with the latest information from Netflix’s April 2020 quarterly release. In the 2020Q1 release, Netflix announced a major increase in subscribers (nearly 16 million new subscribers) which takes its total subscriber count to 182 million global subscribers. This release also gives us some interesting context for Disney+ as it shows that it’s not just Disney+ that has benefitted from the coronavirus / shelter-at-home situation of early 2020. Both Disney+ and Netflix showed big increases in subscribers during this time.
Disney Plus Subscribers History
The following is a history of notable Disney announcements related to the growth of Disney+ subscribers.
April 10, 2020
Disney announced on April 10, 2020 that its Disney+ streaming service has surpassed 50,000,000 subscribers. Despite some significant business challenges during the coronavirus epidemic which has shuttered Disney theme parks and cruise lines, the Disney+ streaming service is a major bright spot for the company.
February 4, 2020
Disney announced that after three months of Disney+, the streaming platform has 28.6 million Disney Plus subscribers. The 28.6 million number was announced on the earnings call by CEO Bob Iger. “We had a strong first quarter, highlighted by the launch of Disney+, which has exceeded even our greatest expectations,” CEO Bob Iger said in the release.
December 31, 2019
On the February 4, 2020 earnings report, Disney mentioned that Disney+ had 26.5 million subscribers by the end of 2019.
November 13, 2019
Disney announces that they have 10 million subscribers after the first day of launching the Disney+ service. Disney took advantage of multiple promotion efforts leading up to the November 12, 2019 launch. For instance, Verizon customers were able to receive a free year of Disney+ as a Verizon Wireless customer. Additionally, Disney club members were able to sign up for a three-year subscription of Disney+ with a substantive discount.
April 11, 2019
Disney unveiled its Disney+ platform and indicated a launch of November 12, 2019. During the event, Disney executives projected between 60 and 90 million global Disney+ subscribers by 2024.