Disney+ Hits 50 Million Subscribers in Less Than 5 Months

Initial projections were 60-90 million subscribers in 5 years

Disney+ debuted in nearly a dozen international markets last month. - Credit by Disney+
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Key insights:

Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, which debuted in November, has hit an enormous new milestone, already amassing 50 million subscribers in just under five months.

Subscriptions have nearly doubled since February, when the company announced it had attracted 28.6 million subscribers, primarily in the U.S., during Disney+’s first three months on the market.

It’s a welcome bit of good news for Disney, which is facing unprecedented shutdowns of its parks and travel businesses amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. The company has also delayed its entire theatrical slate—including titles like Mulan and Black Widow—with the closure of movie theaters around the world.

“We’re truly humbled that Disney+ is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, in a statement. “Great storytelling inspires and uplifts, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to deliver a vast array of great entertainment rooted in joy and optimism on Disney+.”

The figures represent nearly a third of Netflix’s last-reported 161 million global subscribers and far exceed the last reported 30 million subscribers of the Disney-operated streamer Hulu. The figures also mean Disney has nearly met its five-year projected growth figures for Disney+. The media company previously said Disney+ would have between 60 million and 90 million paid subscribers globally in five years.

Disney+ has continued to expand internationally and has almost certainly benefited from the new arrival of the service in nearly a dozen countries. In March, the service debuted in eight European countries including Austria, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K. and India, where it has already attracted nearly 8 million subscribers as part of a bundle with the Disney-owned Indian streamer Hotstar.

The company plans to expand Disney+ into more countries later this year.

The milestone is exceptional for streaming services, which typically take time to grow from the ground up. Disney had come out of the gate with an incredibly strong start, netting more than 10 million sign-ups for the service in two days.

It also comes as streaming services of all kinds see a major spike in viewership as people around the world remain home amid the ongoing pandemic.

While Disney has been clear in its focus on streaming as a key component of its business’s future, Disney+ has never seemed more important to its bottom line.

As Disney’s theatrical business is largely on hold amid the pandemic, the company has opted to move several of its theatrical releases, including Frozen 2 and Onward, to Disney+ much sooner than expected. The company also announced its upcoming film Artemis Fowl would go directly to Disney+ instead of premiering in theaters as previously planned.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.
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