The first two days of the Disney+ streaming service were marred by technical difficulties. A number of users tried to access the content only to be met with a “service unavailable” message. When Disney commented on these issues, they revealed the sort of problem every company wants. Consumer demand overtaxed the new service, much in the way that brand-new games’ online multiplayer functions glitch in the first days. The Disney+ subscription numbers soared past expectations, with 10 million subscribers logging into the app by the second day. Originally, analysts expected that the service would end up with about eight million subscribers by the end of 2020. Disney+ blew past those subscription numbers, by two million. It’s fair to say, at least from the initial subscription numbers, that Disney+ is a success.
What’s Behind the High Subscription Numbers for Disney+?
Image via Lucasfilm
There are two reasons why Disney+ subscription numbers skyrocketed so high, so fast. The first is that Disney+ is the only place to stream two hotly anticipated titles. The first is The Mandalorian, the live-action Star Wars series from Jon Favreau and Lucasfilm legend Dave Filoni. The second is that it is the only place people can stream Avengers: Endgame (other than those who purchased a digital copy, of course). Adding to that, every Star Wars film (save for Solo and The Last Jedi) are available on the service. Also, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are there, too. (Though the Spider-Man solo films will likely never appear on the service, unless Disney and Sony work out an even more cooperative deal.)
Still, the high Disney+ subscription numbers also come from a crucial promotional partnership. Verizon wireless offers its Unlimited subscribers a free year of the service. (After that year, it’s a discounted rate of $6.99 per month.) At least a third of their more than 150 million wireless subscribers are likely on such plans, meaning that the subscription numbers for Disney+ could continue to climb even higher as Verizon customers sign up.
Can Disney+ Maintain Their Subscription Numbers?
Image via Disney
Disney+ offers significantly less content than other streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. While those offer thousands of titles, Disney+ has 600 titles more or less. However, their power is that the things they offer are already beloved. The Mandalorian has rave reviews (even from the typically angry contingent of Star Wars fans). Other new content coming in 2020 from Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will also likely please them. Yet, their old titles are full of nostalgia for people of all ages. 1980s classics like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Return to Oz. 1960s classics like The Love Bug or Mary Poppins. These films are joyfully revisited by fans who remember them from childhood. From Mickey Mouse cartoons to Disney’s animated classic films, there is plenty there for folks to rewatch.
The real test for Disney+ will be how their subscription numbers hold up when Warner Bros./HBO, CBS/Paramount, or NBC/Universal enter the marketplace, too. If those Verizon sign-ups don’t convert into paying subscribers, that will also be trouble. Still, Disney is all-in on their streaming service, and given the response thus far, so are its fans.
What do you think? Share your reactions, reviews, or hesitations about Disney+ in the comments below.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.