This year has been difficult for Disney+ subscriber numbers. While the company wanted to reach over 240 million subscribers by the end of 2024, there have been many issues that are going to prevent them from reaching those numbers. While there was a boom in subscribers during the pandemic, with constant price rises, a reduction in original content, political issues, and a general slowdown in the economy, causing Disney+ to halt its international expansion, the subscriber growth of Disney+ has slowed down. The most significant issue has been happening in India after Disney pulled out of an auction to win the rights to air the Indian Cricket Premiere League, resulting in over 20 million subscribers leaving Disney+ Hotstar.
However, things are starting to look up for Disney+ subscription numbers, as according to a new report from Kantar’s latest Entertainment on Demand (EoD) data, which covers the global video streaming market, which includes the US, Australia and the United Kingdom between July – September 2023, Disney+ has been able to drive more subscriptions during this last quarter.
There are many reasons for the growth in Disney+ subscribers this quarter, mainly the global promotion that ran in September, where new and returning customers could get Disney+ for just a couple of dollars a month for three months. This promotion had a strong response across Europe and helped underscore the effectiveness of their investments in core markets. Plus, with many shows from Marvel and Star Wars over the summer, it will likely have kept many subscribers engaged and encouraged new users to sign up.
Kantar, however, is warning that in order for Disney+ subscribers to continue to grow, it will need to ensure the streaming platform builds a deeper connection with the more casual Disney fans, ensuring the subscription delivers sufficient value. Currently, almost 2/3 of households with access to Disney+ do not use the service on a daily basis. This number is likely much higher in the United States, due to a lack of general entertainment, which should be addressed when Hulu content eventually becomes available in Disney+ later this year, similar to how Disney introduced the Star hub to Disney+ internationally a couple of years ago.
With the upcoming launch of a new, cheaper ad-supported tier across Canada and Europe in November, this will also likely increase the number of subscribers the streaming service can pull in. Disney+ is also likely to increase its subscriber numbers in the coming months when it starts its password-sharing crackdown in these same countries, following the success of Netflix’s recent results, which saw them add millions of subscribers when they started to do the same.
As the cost of living crisis continues to impact people worldwide, with household budgets being squeezed, the rollout of a cheaper ad-supporter tier will be attractive to existing subscribers and new customers. With 90% of Hulu subscribers in the US being on the ad-supported tier, its clear where Disney+ will focus its attention on subscriber growth.
Disney will officially reveal the latest subscriber numbers in the upcoming quarterly financial results on November 8th.
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