What 10 Million Disney+ First-Day Subscriptions Mean

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The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) said on Wednesday that its Tuesday launch of the new Disney+ streaming service signed up 10 million subscribers. The Disney statement called demand for its streaming service “extraordinary.”

That’s putting it mildly. When Netflix began offering its streaming service in 2007, the company signed up fewer than 700,000 subscribers for a service that was free to subscribers to its DVD-by-mail program.

At the end of its most recent quarter, Netflix had 158 subscribers globally, including more than 60 million in the United States. Disney plans to reach at least 60 million subscribers worldwide by 2024. Reuters notes that Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives thinks that at its current pace, Disney+ subscribers could hit that target two years early.

The current pace is, obviously, not 10 million subscribers a day or Disney would reach its subscriber goal next week. But early numbers like this create their own tailwind. Like the lukewarm reception of the Apple TV+ launch of its The Morning Show series starring Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon, the first new series from Disney+, The Mandalorian, is getting a tepid reception as well.

Both Apple TV+ and Disney+, priced at $5 and $7 a month, respectively, undercut the basic $9-per-month Netflix subscription. Disney also offers an ESPN+ streaming package for $5 a month and a Hulu (now wholly owned by Disney) subscription for $6 a month with ads and $12 without. In some markets a Hulu + Live TV subscription costs $45 a month is also available. For a more complete listing of options and prices, see this recently updated story at Consumer Reports.

The 10 million first-day Disney+subscribers set a benchmark against which the coming launches of AT&T/WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service, which includes HBO, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, both due early next year, will be measured.

How many of the first-day subscribers to Disney+ came from a promotion with Verizon that gives all new and existing Verizon wireless customers who pay for unlimited service and new Fios and 5G home internet subscribers a free year of Disney+? How many will sign-up to pay when the year is over? Disney said it expected 17 to 19 million Verizon customers to take advantage of the promotional offer.

Converting those millions to paying subscribers in a year is not guaranteed. If Disney+ with its 500 movies and 7,500 TV programs can’t do it, can any streaming service? Disney also said that it won’t disclose subscriber except as part of its quarterly report.

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