Netflix is forecast to lose its crown as the world’s largest video streaming provider within three years, amid explosive growth at Disney after the launch of its rival on-demand service just 16 months ago.
The Walt Disney Company announced earlier this month that its flagship Disney + platform, launched in late 2019, had surpassed 100 million global subscribers, a feat that its archrival, Netflix, took a decade to accomplish. Coupled with the subscriber numbers for the group’s ESPN + sports platform and Hulu’s subscription service in the US, the surge puts Disney on track to dethrone Netflix by 2024.
The Mandalorian-driven success story has shattered the expectations of management, which had conservatively estimated that it would take five years to reach 90 million subscribers. In December, an emboldened Disney tripled its goal to 260 million by 2024 and doubled its content budget to $ 15 billion (£ 10.8 billion), underscoring its position as the third leading force in the global streaming wars.
Last month, Netflix announced that it had 203.7 million subscribers, which took four years to reach its second hundred million, while Amazon Prime Video, home to series such as Outlander and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, as well as sports such as Premier League and the NFL is estimated to have around 147 million regular global users.
“Disney + has obviously seen one of the fastest growths of a subscription video-on-demand service; Congratulations to them for establishing themselves as a global force so quickly, ”said Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere Analysis. “While Disney + is still only half the size of Netflix, it has reached that milestone on an unprecedented timescale.”
Ampere said Disney + would overtake Amazon Prime Video in 2024 to become the second most popular streaming service in the world. Netflix would stay on top until at least 2025, when it forecasts that the number of subscribers would reach 247 million and 286 million respectively. However, taking ESPN + and Hulu into account, the Walt Disney Company would generally be ahead of Netflix by two to three years.
The group is forecast to reach 266 million subscribers by the end of 2023, just shy of Netflix at 269 million. A year later, the positions will be reversed, with Netflix’s 279 million subscribers behind Walt Disney’s 295 million.
With Brits spending 40% of their waking hours in front of the television during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, streaming services have seen a boom in popularity. By the end of last year, more than 32 million Britons had subscribed to Netflix, Amazon or Disney +, double the number of subscribers to traditional pay-TV providers such as Sky, BT and Virgin Media.
While Netflix enjoyed a record year on a global scale, adding 37 million new subscribers is the most in a single year in its history, Disney + proved to be the biggest winner in the UK.
Aided by the serendipitous moment of its UK launch, in the week the nation entered the first lockdown in March 2020, Disney + racked up nearly 40% of the 13 million new streaming subscribers in the UK. last year. Amazon Prime Video took a quarter, while Netflix, the UK’s most popular service, attracted 19%, according to data firm Kantar.
At first glance, the level of success Disney + has achieved might be surprising, given the relatively small catalog of content it released compared to its rivals. In January this year, Disney + was offering 4,500 hours of content compared to 40,000 on Netflix and 50,000 on Amazon. Even relative minnows like BritBox (10,000 hours) and Hayu, home to reality shows like Below Deck and Keeping up with the Kardashians, (6,000), offered more.
Disney is aware of the need for a constant stream of new TV shows and movies in the content arms race to attract and retain subscribers. It aims to add more than 100 new titles to the service each year. Additionally, it launched a global companion streaming service, Star, last month, doubling the amount of content it offers with shows designed to appeal to a broader non-Disney audience such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, 24, and The X- Files.
“It’s about quality over quantity,” Broughton said. “The others have volume, Disney trusts the quality of its brands. It has shows and movies that the people, the fans, feel they should see. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism