Disney’s new subscriber numbers follow a series of rollouts in international territories, including the UK, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland. Although Disney Plus did delay the launch of its service in France due to government concern that it would put too much strain on bandwidth, the app is now available there, too. Disney previously reported that it had 28 million subscribers during an earnings call with investors in February.
To compare, Netflix has 167 million subscribers around the world, or just under one-third of Netflix’s total subscriber base. Hulu, Disney’s other streaming service, has 30 million subscribers. Hulu only operates in the United States, however, and Disney is looking at an international rollout beginning in 2021.
“We’re truly humbled that Disney Plus is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year,” Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer, said in a press release. “Great storytelling inspires and uplifts, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to deliver a vast array of great entertainment rooted in joy and optimism on Disney Plus.”
Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy noted during the February investors call that Disney expects the majority of its growth going forward to come from international subscribers. The company is also expecting a bump in domestic subscribers around the premiere of highly anticipated series from Marvel and Lucasfilm. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set to premiere in August, with WandaVision in December, and The Mandalorian returning for a second season in October.
Disney Plus has also seen a swath of activity in the last few weeks. Frozen 2 and Onward were brought to the streamer early. Artemis Fowl, originally set to have a theatrical release, will now debut on Disney Plus as a streaming exclusive. Disney, like other studios, is looking at ways to pipeline certain releases as streaming exclusives now that people are social distancing at home and theaters remain closed due to the pandemic. Executive chairman and former CEO Bob Iger told Barron’s it’s likely other titles will go to Disney Plus early.
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