CTV Ad Summit - leaderboard - 4-27-20
  • Disney+ Has 50 Million Subscribers; Average Daily Growth is Remarkably Consistent

    Disney announced that Disney+ now has 50 million paid subscribers, a little less than 5 months since it launched, on November 13. Disney last reported it had 28.6 million subscribers on February 3rd. So since that date, Disney+ has added another 21.4 million. Beyond the staggering growth - from zero to 50 million subscribers in less than 5 months - what’s also remarkable is that the average daily subscriber growth for Disney+ is highly consistent across the two reporting periods (November 13 to February 3 and February 4 - April 7)

    In the first reporting period, which included approximately 84 days, an average of 340,476 subscribers were added per day. In the second reporting period, which included approximately 64 days, an average of 334,375 subscribers were added per day. That’s just a 1.8% average daily decline from period one to period two.

    Then consider how different the two periods were. The first included the all-out launch campaign and the critical holiday season. The second included a couple of weeks of international expansion in 8 countries, including India (it’s still a little unclear how Disney is counting as “acquired” the mix of new vs. existing Hotstar subscribers with Disney+. I have assumed all as acquired for simplicity). Then there’s the fact that the theme parks were closed due to the virus, cutting off a key promotional channel for Disney+.

    Yet another important promotional channel - the Disney+ free year for select new Verizon subscribers - has also likely diminished due to the virus. Conversely, the virus has meant hundreds of millions of people staying at home with time on their hands (especially kids), and streaming video has surged as a result. No doubt that has increased retention rates post free trial and also artificially bumped up subscriber acquisitions.

    The first included the all-out launch campaign and the critical holiday season. The second included a couple of weeks of international expansion in 8 countries, but it also included a time when the parks were closed due to the virus, cutting off a key promotional channel for Disney+. Yet another important promotional channel - the Disney+ free year for select new Verizon subscribers - has also likely diminished due to the virus. Conversely, the virus has meant hundreds of millions of people staying at home with time on their hands (especially kids), and streaming video has surged as a result. No doubt that has increased retention rates post free trial and also artificially bumped up subscriber acquisitions.

    In short, there have been many cross-currents occurring since launch that neither Disney, nor anyone, could have anticipated. Yet nearly 5 months post-launch Disney Plus seems to be humming along really well. Depending on how things go from here, Disney Plus is also poised to blow away management’s subscriber forecasts. Back on investor day on April 11, 2019, Disney forecast 60-90 million subscribers by the end of fiscal year 2024, which would be September 2024, still 4 1/2 years away. If Disney+ continued adding subscribers at about 300K per day, or about 10 million per month, it could be approaching the low end of the forecast very soon.

    Obviously how 2020 plays out with the virus is anyone's guess. But what can reasonably be said is that eventually Disney Plus is going to be regarded as one of - if not the most - successful product launches of all time. Everything about Disney+, the launch, pricing, content, operations, promotions, etc. has been impressively executed. None of this was a layup. Mobilizing and unifying the disparate Disney resources into one branded service meant surmounting lots of legacy approaches and quickly scaling new processes. Disney+ still has many challenges ahead, not least updating its content as the virus has shut down productions. But 50 million is a huge base to start with and it’s clearly a winner. Disney+ is going to be one of the big SVOD players going forward.

     
  • CTV Ad Summit - full banner - 4-27-20

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