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State of the Screens

The Force (And Sub Growth) Is Strong With Disney+

By February 18, 2021No Comments

Big news: Disney reached 95M subscribers in 14 months. It took Netflix roughly 9 years to reach this mark.

Streaming Race Graph

Disney+ subscribers (QoQ growth):
1) 2019-Q4 – 28.6M
2) 2020-Q1 – 54.5M (↑ 91%)
3) 2020-Q2 – 60.5M (↑ 11%)
4) 2020-Q3 – 73.7M (↑ 22%)
5) 2020-Q4 – 94.9M (↑ 29%)

Disney+ Passes 90M Subscribers Three years Ahead of Schedule Graph

Disney streaming subscribers by platform (% of total) according to Variety:
1) Disney+ – 94.9M (65%)
2) Hulu – 39.4M (27%)
3) ESPN+ – 12.1M (8%)
4) Total – 146.4M

Big question #1: Is comparing Netflix and Disney+ by subscribers apples to apples?

Quick answer: No. Disney+ currently charges 63% less per subscriber per month (ARPU).

Monthly ARPU comparison during 2020-Q4:
1) Netflix – $10.80
2) Disney+ – $4.03

Monthly ARPU for Disney+ (QoQ growth) according to LightShed Partners:
1) 2019-Q4 – $5.56
2) 2020-Q1 – $5.63 (↑ 1%)
3) 2020-Q2 – $4.62 (↓ 18%)
4) 2020-Q3 – $4.52 (↓ 2%)
5) 2020-Q4 – $4.03 (↓ 11%)

Big question #2: Why is ARPU for Disney+ declining?

Quick answer: India/Hotstar. ≈ 30% of Disney+ subscribers come from Hotstar in India with an ARPU of ≈ $1.

Big question #3: Is this bad for Disney?

Quick answer: No. Disney’s focus is on building a global subscription base.

Flashback: Can Disney+ Keep The Magic Alive?

Big question #4: How can Disney+ become more significant for Disney?

Quick answer: A rundle.

WTF is a rundle? A rundle is a bundle of services with a recurring revenue (subscription) business model (h/t: Scott Galloway).

A Disney rundle could include:
1) Member-only access to parks
2) Member-only cruises
3) Early access to in-home viewing for tentpole films

Quick math on a Disney rundle:
1) 85M families w/ children in the US, Japan, and the EU
2) 52M subscribe to Disney rundle
3) $50 per month
4) $2.6B per month
5) $31.2B per year

Big question #5: What drove the Disney+ sign-ups last quarter?

Quick answer: The Mandalorian and Soul.
Disney+ Daily Signups Graph
Quote from Marc Randolph – Co-Founder and Original CEO @ Netflix:

“We’re seeing the new rules of the game developing. This is not just announcing, this is not just having a promotion — what you have to demonstrate is that you have the content, content content. And it’s not just a few things. You have to have a continuous slate of new things coming out. It’s really a war of who’s prepared to make the content.”

Video: How Disney+ Became a Streaming Service Heavyweight

More #1: What if one of Disney’s most important acquisitions didn’t happen?


More #2: Disney Plus’ Star Wars Assault: From ‘Obi-Wan’ to ‘Boba Fett,’ a Look at What Comes Next


More #3: How The Mandalorian Changed Disney’s Star Wars Strategy

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.

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