Disney is already about halfway to catching Netflix when it comes to domestic subscribers
Disney confirmed this month what many people already expected: A lot of people have already signed up for Disney+.
To be exact, 26.5 million people during the fourth quarter started paying for the new service — which comes with a long list of classic Disney movies and shows, as well as new series like “The Mandalorian.” And since the start of 2020, Disney has added another 2 million subscribers, bringing its stalwart service to 28.6 million subscribers overall. That’s excluding viewers using a free yearlong trial thanks to Disney’s partnership with Verizon.
But how does that stack up against Netflix — the top dog in streaming — and Disney’s other competitors?
TheWrap asked Ampere Analysis, a London-based entertainment research firm, to help paint an up-to-date picture of the U.S. streaming market, after Disney chief Bob Iger said the “vast majority” of its subscribers came from the United States. (Disney+ also launched in a handful of international markets — Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand — back in November; it’s expected to roll out to several European countries in the near future.)
Here’s how the top streaming services compare when looking at their domestic performance:
HBO Now comes in at about 8 million subscribers; Disney+ is at 28.6 million customers; Hulu, which is owned by Disney, is up 30.4 million subscribers; Amazon Prime Video, according to Ampere’s data, has 42.2 million accounts watching its shows in the U.S.; and Netflix leads the pack with 61 million domestic subscribers.
There are a few things worth pointing out, including Prime Video’s performance. Amazon has been notoriously reticent to share any viewer data, although it did recently reveal, during its Q4 earnings report, that it now had 150 million global Prime members. Because Prime membership offers a myriad of perks beyond access to original content like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” comparing Prime viewing data with other services should be taken with a grain of salt; these members aren’t just signing up to watch Amazon original content, typically. And assuming most of those memberships stem from the U.S., it looks like a majority of Prime customers haven’t been compelled to watch Amazon’s shows.
Hulu, meanwhile, crossed the 30 million subscriber mark due, in part, to Disney’s bundling it with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. The bundle also proved important for Disney’s early streaming success; average revenue per user for Disney+ was $5.56, or about 20% less than the $6.99 monthly cost for Disney+ on its own — indicating a healthy amount of its subscribers opted for its bundle package.
Netflix is pushing towards a saturation point at home, with the company adding less than 600,000 domestic subscribers last quarter. With its formidable cushion in the U.S., Netflix has increasingly looked towards padding its international lead, as well. Netflix has started to produce more original series aimed outside the U.S., with 368 non-English language original series dedicated towards its international subscribers last year — up nearly 40% from 2018.
Conspicuously missing from this graph is Apple TV+. Despite launching in November, Apple offered few details on its new streaming service when it reported its earnings last week. Even with CEO Tim Cook saying it was off to a “rousing start,” Apple decided against sharing any update on its subscriber count. Later in the same earnings call, though, Apple CFO Luca Maestri seemed to contradict Cook, saying Apple TV+ “didn’t have a material impact” on its services business.
The question moving forward will be can Disney — or any of the other services — close the gap with Netflix in the U.S.