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Market Insight

Disney+ launches; 14.3 million subscribers forecast by end of 2019

November 13, 2019  | Subscribers Only

Sarah Henschel Sarah Henschel Senior Research Analyst, Media, IHS Markit

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The Walt Disney Company’s direct-to-consumer OTT subscription video service Disney+ has launched in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands with Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico scheduled to launch in one week’s time on November 19th. At the end of March 2020, Disney+ is set to launch in a number of Western European countries, including the EU big five (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy). Disney’s launch follows the heels of Apple TV+’s launch 11 days earlier. While both services are comparably priced, Apple launched in over 80 territories and Disney, while not in as many territories, launched with significantly more content. Disney’s launch is well timed leading into the holiday season where consumer spend on media seasonally spikes. HBO Max and Peacock, Warner Media and NBCUniversal’s D2C services respectively, are scheduled to launch in Q2 of 2020.

The single tier Disney+ service offers four concurrent streams, UHD and HDR10 support, offline downloads, and 7,500 television episodes and 500 film titles including new original content across Disney’s IP portfolio, including Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic. This base title count varies by country however as per Disney’s title licensing in the territory. This will also affect the rate at which library titles are added to the service.  The Disney+ application is also widely supported across an array of digital media adaptors, smart TVs, and game consoles by the likes of Apple, Amazon, Roku Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and LG. In the US, Disney+ is available at $6.99 USD monthly, $69.99 USD annually or combined with Hulu’s ad-supported tier and ESPN+ at $12.99 USD per month. When compared to its main US rival, the technical and user experience capabilities of Disney+ make it most comparable to Netflix’s top tier Premium package, which in the US now costs more than twice as much as Disney+ at $15.99 although Disney’s content library remains very limited in comparison.

Disney’s new service is also available free for one year to all Verizon unlimited mobile subscribers as well as new Verizon FIOS home internet and 5G internet subscribers. One Disney+ account is allotted per Verizon account and the offer is redeemable until June 1st, 2020. As Verizon subscribers roll off the plan after one year of free subscription, they will be converted to standalone subscribers at $6.99 per month. This promotional program offers significant immediate reach for Disney+ in the United States and will accordingly increase subscriber forecasts in the first year of operation. The hope for Disney will then be that a portion of these subscribers will remain as direct paying subscribers as the service reclaims more of its content to further develop the content slate.

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