The Disney + streaming service is doing very well at the moment. The magic mark of 100 million subscribers has just been cracked after only about a year and a half. The current market leader Netflix took significantly longer to do this. But does that mean Disney + will soon have overtaken its biggest competitor?
Disney + was launched in the US on November 12th, and on March 24th, 2020. Almost exactly a year has passed since then, and the streaming service got off to a surprising start that exceeded its own expectations by far. The magic mark of 100 million subscribers worldwide was cracked in March 2021 . This is currently leading to a wave of speculation as to when Disney’s in-house streaming platform will make it to the top – and displace the current market leader Netflix there. But is that realistic? The following speaks for and against.
The “surprise hit” from Disney +
Although Disney + was eagerly anticipated in advance and was considered a major Netflix competitor, the company itself would not have expected such good figures so quickly. In August 2020, more than 60 million users worldwide had a subscription, in December it was already 85 million. 90 million was the self-set mark that Disney + wanted for its fifth anniversary. Disney + has already crossed this finish line in just over a year. In December 2020, the understandably brave provider expanded its goals: it should be 260 million by 2024. At the same time, the budget is now higher than originally planned. Disney wants to push its streaming platform with 15 billion US dollars (approx. 12.6 billion euros).
Disney + now includes big brands such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic. In addition, Hulu productions and content from ESPN + land on the platform. Analyst and industry expert Richard Broughton forecast the provider in the Guardian to have almost 270 million subscribers by 2024.
Netflix’s long track record
For Netflix, the path to 100 million subscribers was much longer and rockier. It took almost 10 years to reach the proud mark. Part of the history of the provider, of course, is that in 1997 it was launched much earlier than Disney +, at that time still as an online rental for DVDs. It was not until 2007 that Netflix finally switched to the streaming business after the success of YouTube. Netflix’s recommendation algorithm Cinematch was also groundbreaking. Incidentally, this also had an enormous influence on the popularity of various smaller indie productions.
In the 2010s, Netflix continuously expanded both its offer and its subscription numbers. In the Corona year 2020, the company’s stock market value then exceeded that of the entire Walt Disney Company at almost $ 200 billion. In early 2021, the company announced that it now had 203.7 million subscribers worldwide.
Also read: The latest news on Netflix
Disney + and Netflix in direct comparison
The company histories of both streaming providers can therefore only be compared to a limited extent. The current offer and the performance for it all the more. Due to the time, Netflix has a clear lead here. The provider is technically implemented on many devices and is easy to use. In addition, surveys and studies such as that of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität show time and again that user trust is high. Here too , Disney + got involved furiously , but the app also has significant room for improvement.
The biggest difference is in the offer. Netflix is known for a wealth of in-house productions that can be seen exclusively on the platform. Big names include “The Crown”, “Stranger Things”, “Tiger King”, “The Witcher” and “The Queen’s Gambit”. Especially in series, Netflix seems to have an unbeatable feeling for its target group so far. In comparison, it looks pretty poor at Disney +. The launch of Disney + Star in February 2021 was certainly an important step towards attractive content. The provider is thus moving from the smaller target group of families with children to more broadly based content.
The greatest strength of Disney +, however, is the size of the brands that belong to it, especially Marvel and Star Wars. These franchises delivered the greatest successes on the platform to date: “The Mandalorian” and ” WandaVision “. It is essential for the future success of Disney + that such high-quality, exclusive content continues to be available. Netflix, on the other hand, has already proven that it is able to publish such content on a regular basis.
Also read: The latest news on Disney +
Can Disney + catch up with Netflix anytime soon?
According to its own statement, Disney + wants to overtake Amazon Prime in three years and Netflix in four years and grab the streaming crown. Given the current numbers, one can understand where this statement comes from, but should be used with caution. Disney + clearly benefited from the corona pandemic at the start. Even if the situation in France, for example, led to a postponement of the publication, in retrospect it can still be said that far more people streamed films and series for entertainment during the lockdown. Since Disney + literally came out of nowhere at this point in time, the jump is logically larger than with other streaming services, which, however, were also able to record a significant plus.
Disney + also benefits from the groundwork that Netflix has already done. The provider established video streaming internationally. At the same time, the own brand continued to grow. Just as “Googling” is known to everyone nowadays and generally means searching for information using a search engine, the term “Netflixen” has already established itself in many places.
In order to really catch up with Netflix and leave it behind, Disney + not only has to win over Netflix subscribers, because this is essentially the target group that streams their films and series. Rather, it also has to get this user base to give up their Netflix account in order to have a head start. Competition will also come from other camps such as Amazon or soon HBO Max. Many big names are arguing about a target group that may at some point pull the rip cord and say that three streaming services are over. It will therefore be quite difficult for Disney + to finally catch up with Netflix, especially since the competitor is certainly not producing on the back burner in the meantime. For the user community, however, the fight could have a positive effect in terms of content. Because one thing is pretty certain: In the end, the decisive factor will be the overall package between price and high-quality, exclusive content. So far, Netflix has been ahead of the game – and clearly.