Four years ago today, Disney+ was launched in the United States, and Canada, following a successful beta test in the Netherlands, which began a couple of months beforehand. Disney+ offers fans of all ages a new way to experience the unparalleled content from the company’s iconic entertainment brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars National Geographic, and more.
In those four years, Disney+ has undergone some major changes, expanding beyond its original five brands and family-friendly content.
Disney+ currently has over 150 million subscribers in more than 150 markets across North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Africa, and Latin America.
The platform initially launched at a super low price of $6.99 a month and those early adopters at the D23 Expo in 2019, were able to get three years of the streaming service for just over $200! Since then, the platform has gone through annual price rises to double the original launch price, since Disney priced the new streaming service to get people hooked!
Over the years, there have been plenty of popular original hits, including “The Mandalorian”, which introduced the phenomenon of Baby Yoda, along with many Marvel shows such as “WandaVision” and “Loki”. Plus other big successes such as “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, in addition to smash-hit films like “Luca”, “Turning Red” and “Hocus Pocus 2”.
Back in 2021, Disney celebrated the second anniversary of the launch of Disney+ with “Disney+ Day”, which featured content premieres from the streaming service’s marquee brands, including “Home Sweet Home Alone” plus special experiences and offers for subscribers and fans, and more, in addition to announcements of new shows and films.
In 2022, Disney+ Day moved to September 8th and took place just before the D23 Expo 2022 event in Anaheim, which also saw a large selection of new content added to Disney+, including “Pinocchio”, in addition to special events at Disney theme parks and more.
However, in 2023, Disney has skipped Disney+ Day. This is likely because Disney is spreading out its content releases, rather than dropping a huge amount of films and shows at once. Will Disney+ Day return in the future?
Late last year, the first ad-supported tier launched in the United States, which has quickly become the most popular way for new subscribers to sign up, since it’s the cheapest way to enjoy the original content. Just earlier this month, the ad-supported tier was launched in more countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada.
In February 2021, Disney+ subscribers in many countries around the world, including the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, saw the launch of the sixth general entertainment hub, Star, which saw content from Disney’s studios including 20th Century Studios, FX, and ABC added to the mix.
In early 2022, US subscribers got their first taste of more mature content, with the addition of some former Netflix Marvel series, like “Daredevil”, along with new parental controls, to match how it worked outside the US.
Over the last two years, Disney+ has slowly been adding more mature content in the United States, but because of the complicated issues with Hulu, which will be resolved on December 1st 2023, when Disney buy out the remaining stake in Hulu from Comcast, resulting in subscribers in the United States catching up with the rest of the world, as in December, some Hulu content will be launching within Disney+, but it will only be available to Hulu subscribers.
Adding Hulu on Disney+ in December will be the biggest change to Disney+ in the US and will be in “beta” until the full launch in March 2024.
In the last four years, Disney+ has continued to evolve and will continue to do so in the future. It’s had a bumpy ride after its initial launch, which saw an incredible boost in subscribers, followed by an even larger expansion globally during the pandemic, which saw subscriber numbers grow.
However, the bumper launch period was followed by an era of readjustment. As the world went back to normal, subscriber numbers growth began to slow down, with Disney+ Hotstar losing missions of subscribers after losing the rights to the Indian Cricket Premier League rights.
Before Disney+ launched, the company said it wouldn’t become profitable until 2024, but things have drastically changed now that date is much closer. We’ve seen a huge reduction in the amount of original programming, and earlier this year, there was a wave of over a hundred original shows and films removed from the platform to write off over $2 billion dollars’ worth of losses for the company.
Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger explained why all of these changes have happened and how Disney+ is the future of the company.
“Now that we have realigned our pricing and marketing strategies, focused aggressively on getting the technology right, merged our creative and distribution teams, and restored creative excellence as our singular motivating priority with the content we create, we are bullish about the future of our streaming business. And as you consider the components and the future of that business, just imagine the opportunities that a further combined Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN streaming experience could offer us as a company and our consumers.”
Over the last four years, there have been many amazing shows and films released, plus access to many of people’s favourite movies and shows from across Disney’s 100-year history. Would we like to see more library content added? Certainly! Hopefully, once the Hulu On Disney+ launch is completed, the company can focus on giving us much more classic Disney content from the archive, in addition to more new content from the Disney studios and new general entertainment to keep the whole family interested in Disney+.
And as a personal note, it’s also the fifth anniversary of What’s On Disney Plus’s launch, so I’d like to thank everyone who has visited this website, listened to my podcast, watched my videos or follows us on social media!
What’s been your favourite Disney+ moment from the last four years? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.