Disney+ Gains Foothold in Streaming Battlefield, Nielsen Says

Disney+ has made inroads into becoming part of consumers' streaming habits, but the platform has a ways to go to catch its more established rivals. 

That's one of the takeaways from Nielsen's latest total audience report, which among other things details how much time users spend on streaming service. Streaming accounted for 25 percent of total TV usage during the second quarter of the year, up from 19 percent in the final three months of 2019 — figures undoubtedly influenced somewhat by a large portion of the population spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney+ accounted for 4 percent of streaming usage in the quarter — the first time Nielsen's streaming meter measurement (a subset of its national TV panel) has broken out the service, which launched in November 2019. That's the smallest share among the five platforms Nielsen measures individually, but it's also not that far behind Amazon's Prime Video service at 8 percent.

Netflix is by far the largest of the group, accounting for 34 percent of streaming time, per Nielsen's figures. YouTube ranks second at 20 percent, followed by Hulu (also controlled by Disney) at 11 percent. All other streaming platforms — including Apple TV+, CBS All Access and niche services — together made up 23 percent of time spent. WarnerMedia's HBO Max launched May 27, four days before the end of the second quarter.

Disney reported 57.5 million paid subscribers worldwide for Disney+ in the second quarter (and more than 60 million by early August). Nielsen's measurements are only for the United States. The second quarter saw Disney+ add blockbuster movies Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to its catalog but was light on original programming from April to June. Its subscription-driving live capture of Hamilton debuted in July. 

Streaming services don't regularly release viewing data and have disputed the accuracy of Nielsen's figures in the past.