Disney+ set to surpass Netflix subscribers by 2026

A new report has made the bold prediction that Disney+ will surpass Netflix for global subscribers within five years.

New figures from Digital TV Research put Disney+ ahead of Netflix by 2026, with a global total of 294 million to Netflix’s 286 million. 

The report comes after Disney revealed that it ended Q1 2021 with 94.9 million subscribers. The company has surpassed its four-year goal within 14 months, and has now set a target of 230-260 million subs by 2024.

But while the analyst expects Disney to go on and strengthen from there, much of its success will be down to the ever-growing Indian market. The report notes that this will be the only country where Disney+ will have more subscribers than Netflix, with a wide margin of 98 million versus 13 million. 

A significant amount of Disney’s growth within India is down to the strategy it has taken with Disney+. Rather than launching it as a separate product, the company integrated Disney+ with the pre-existing Hotstar streamer, giving it a sizable install base. Disney+ Hotstar also holds exclusive streaming rights for the popular Indian Premier League cricket competition, whose 2020 edition was viewed for 383 billion minutes by people in the country.

However as noted by Disney’s latest quarterly results, an emphasis on growing in the Asian country has driven down ARPU, as subscriptions cost significantly less in India. As such, while it will have more users, Disney+’s global revenues will only be at US$20.76 billion – half of the US$39.52 billion made by Netflix.

The research also notes that Disney and Netflix will be the only operators to surpass 200 million subscribers, with Amazon, HBO and Apple expected to be at 184 million, 50 million and 11 million respectively by 2026. China, and its large number of streaming services, will have a collective 279 million users, while the nebulous categorisation of ‘Others’ will be made up of 284 million subscribers.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Disney+ Hotstar will roll out to 13 Asian countries by 2026. These countries will supply 108 million (37%) of the global Disney+ subscriber total, but only $2.62 billion (13%) of the platform’s revenues by 2026. Hotstar subscribers pay less than a third of the monthly subscription fee of their US counterpart.”

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