Disney backed up its claims that Disney+’s first-day glitches were the result of high consumer demand, revealing Tuesday that the streaming service had hit 10 million signups since its Nov. 12 launch.
CEO Bob Iger expects the $7-per-month offering, which launched with original Star Wars series The Mandalorian as well as a library of movies and TV shows, to reach between 60 million and 90 million global subscribers within its first five years, though one analyst recently forecast that it would hit more than 100 million subscribers by 2025.
Disney, which launched a full-on marketing assault ahead of the Disney+ launch, has been using a number of tactics to boost signups, including offering discounts to fan club members, inking a deal with Verizon to give it away for free to the cellphone giant’s customers and bundling it with Hulu and ESPN+. The company did not disclose how many of those signups included people on promotional offers, including a seven-day free trial offered to new users.
Going forward, Disney said that it would not provide subscriber updates about Disney+ outside of its quarterly earnings call. The company isn’t set to report fourth-quarter earnings until February.
Disney+ launched Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada and The Netherlands. It will slowly roll out around the rest of the world, starting Nov. 19 with Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico. The company has said it expects the direct-to-consumer service to “launch in most major global markets within its first two years,” including a March 31 push into markets across Western Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
At launch, the service offered nearly 500 films, including several Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars titles, and some 7,500 TV episodes, including the entire The Simpsons library. Disney+ original programming in the early days includes The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars series; High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the new scripted series set at the real-life East High featured in the High School Musical franchise; and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a docuseries from National Geographic.
But the service faced technical challenges during its debut, a common problem for new services just hitting the market. Disney released a statement acknowledging that some customers had faced challenges in accessing the service. “The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations,” the company tweeted. “We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience.”
Amid the escalating streaming wars — in addition to Disney, Apple has launched a subscription video service and others will soon debut from WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal — one key focus for new entrants is reaching subscriber goals to carve out a piece of the overall direct-to-consumer video market. WarnerMedia also expects that its HBO Max offering could hit as many as 90 million subscribers in its first five years.
With 10 million in signups, Disney is off to a strong start, though not all of those people are likely to stay with the service when the promotions and trials end. The company’s other services, Hulu and ESPN+, currently have 28.5 million and 3.5 million subscribers, respectively. It will take a lot to surpass Netflix, however, which has a market-leading 158 million subscribers worldwide.
Iger has said he is confident the company will reach its targets. “There’s only one Disney,” he recently told THR. “No one can come out and have a product that’s like ours, because no one’s got those brands.”