While Disney announced that it finished September with 179 million direct-to-consumer subscribers globally, the media conglomerate was typically coy about its domestic reach.
But according to new research from Ampere Analysis, Disney's combined subscription streaming assets will reach around 108 million consumers in the U.S. by the end of 2021. That's a notable figure, especially when you consider that Netflix finished the third quarter with 74 million U.S. customers.
"The Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus bundle, which offers an $8 per month saving on taking the services individually, is a strong driver for Disney’s overall streaming growth in the U.S., particularly for ESPN Plus," said Toby Holleran, research manager for Ampere Analysis.
Disney disappointed investors earlier this month with the revelation that it only added 5 million DTC subscribers in its fiscal third quarter, which ended Oct. 2. Disney said last week that it's committing to spend $33 billion on licensing and producing programming in 2022. But Holleran sees renewed growth in the U.S. in the here and now.
"A strong content portfolio from Disney Plus and Hulu, making the most of its key Marvel and Star Wars franchises (on Disney Plus) and FX (on Hulu), as well as the continuation of live sports (on ESPN Plus) has further driven subscription growth this year," the analyst said.
"Additionally, the plan to incorporate Disney Plus and ESPN Plus subscriptions—alongside Hulu’s SVOD service—with a Hulu TV contract from next month will further push the domestic U.S. subscriber base of the three services, reaching around 108 million subscriptions by the end of the year," Halleran added. "Reports suggest that NBCUniversal is considering moving content from Hulu to Peacock in 2022, but because of the combination of attractive bundled pricing, alongside a strong slate of original content scheduled for release in 2022 across Disney Plus and Hulu, Ampere expects the combined suite to experience growth beyond 2021."
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