DISNEY PROMISED investors in spring 2019 that a new video-streaming service would win between 60m and 90m subscribers by 2024. Disney+ has outperformed that forecast spectacularly, hitting its five-year subscriber target in just eight months. In doing so it is fulfilling the digital-transformation plan set in motion three years ago by Bob Iger, Disney’s longtime boss, now its executive chairman.
Marketing muscle, crucial to success, has been backed up by “The Mandalorian”, a space western inspired by “Star Wars”. Such is its popularity that Disney was late meeting demand for a plush-toy of its baby Yoda character. The pandemic added a turbocharge, dashing fears that Disney+ and other new streaming services, like HBO Max and Apple TV+, might struggle to attract time-starved consumers. Lockdowns mean extra hours to while away, notes Tim Mulligan of MIDiA Research.
Amid school closures Disney+ has been as trusty a baby-sitter as baby Yoda’s nurse droid. Of all the new streaming services Disney+, which launched in western Europe in March, just as lockdowns began, is the clear winner. Even so it has not touched the leader, Netflix, which has 195m subscribers worldwide and over 70m in America alone (see chart).