Disney Plus has officially surpassed 100 million subscribers, less than a year and a half after the streaming service launched.
Executives announced the milestone during Disney’s annual shareholders meeting. The last time Disney gave an update on Disney Plus’ subscribers number was in February during its first quarter earnings; there, it announced that, as of January 2nd, 2021, there were just over 94 million. Although executives didn’t say what pushed Disney Plus over 100 million subscribers, the recent success of WandaVision and Raya and the Last Dragon likely helped. The next big series for Disney Plus is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, out on March 19th.
“The enormous success of Disney Plus ... has inspired us to be even more ambitious, and to significantly increase our investment in the development of high-quality content,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a press release. “In fact, we set a target of [more than] 100 new titles per year, and this includes Disney Animation, Disney Live Action, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.”
Disney’s streaming success has caught the attention of everyone in the industry. Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings didn’t think it was possible that Disney could generate 60 million subscribers for Disney Plus within its first year, and now it has passed 100 million subscribers within 16 months.
Disney executives originally predicted that Disney Plus would amass between 60 and 90 million subscribers by 2024. The company has blown past that goal and is now targeting between 300 and 350 million subscribers across all of its streaming platforms (Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus, Star Plus, HotStar) by 2024.
To try to continue growing Disney Plus’ subscriber base, Chapek reiterated that Disney’s “direct-to-consumer business is the company’s top priority, and our robust pipeline of content will continue to fuel its growth.” There are currently several series from every major franchise and brand in development, and it seems likely more mid-tier films (movies that aren’t on the same level as Star Wars, Marvel, or Frozen) will migrate to Disney Plus.
While 100 million subscribers is an accomplishment, analysts will likely have questions about the revenue breakdown. In December, Christine McCarthy, Disney’s chief financial officer, announced that 30 percent of Disney Plus’ subscriber base comes from Disney Plus HotStar, where the average revenue per customer is lower. As Netflix’s vice president of investor relations, Spencer Wang, pointed out in January, the overall revenue is lower.
Still, there’s no question that Disney has pulled off an incredible feat with Disney Plus. Other competitors, like WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal, are trying to scale their own streaming services (HBO Max and Peacock, respectively) but are growing at a much slower pace.
During the meeting, Disney executive chairman Bob Iger reiterated that he was going to leave the company at the end of the year. This mark’s his final shareholder meeting. Considering he saw the conception and launch of Disney Plus, what an incredible feat to go out on.