Disney’s long awaited Disney+ streaming platform has launched in the US, gaining more than 10 million subscribers in just one day.
And according to app data service Apptopia, the Disney+ app was downloaded more than 3.2 million times, taking it to the top app in the App Store with the overwhelming demand leading the platform to suffer outages.
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"The demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations," Disney said.
"We are so pleased you're excited to watch all your favourites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience."
The demand for #DisneyPlus has exceeded our highest expectations. We are so pleased you’re excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.— Disney+ (@disneyplus) November 12, 2019
Originally, Disney had predicted 2 million subscribers by the end of 2019, but repeatedly upped those expectations to 18 million after signing deals with companies like Verizon offering free subscriptions.
The opportunity to buy Disney+ as part of a bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu in the US also boosted subscription numbers.
Viewers collectively spent 1.3 million hours watching Disney+ - still significantly below the average daily hours people spend watching Netflix.
Apptopia said this was also impacted by Disney+ tech challenges.
When will Disney+ launch in Australia?
There’s good news for Australians thirsty to get into Disney+ flagship program – The Mandalorian.
Disney+ is set to launch in Australia on Tuesday 19 November with around 500 movies and 7,500 series’ episodes from the likes of the Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and naturally Disney studios.
The service costs AU$8.99 a month or AU$89.99 a year, significantly undercutting Netflix subscriptions.
The cheapest Netflix subscription is AU$9.99 a month for a basic plan which allows viewing on just one device at a time with standard viewing quality.
But Netflix users can pay up to AU$17.99 for its premium service allowing viewers to watch on four different devices with high definition. Both those features are included in Disney+ single tier.
However, according to Apptopia, that fee will likely increase over time as it has for other streaming services like Netflix.
What does the Disney+ launch mean for streaming?
“A competitive space is about to get a whole lot more competitive,” Apptopia said.
“Consumers will be happy with the low prices and plethora of content, but the fragmentation is definitely annoying. In order to get all of the content they want without personally paying for the whole smörgåsbord, people will continue a culture of sharing passwords.”
But as former Amazon Studios strategist and industry insider Matthew Ball said in an essay on Redef, Disney+ has a massive advantage in the streaming wars: Disney doesn’t need to convince anyone about the value of their content, or even the value of a streaming service like Netflix originally had to.
“In building a streaming video on demand (SVOD) service, Disney’s greatest advantage and accelerant is widely understood: the company’s intellectual property is best-in-class,” Ball said.
“Disney released the highest grossing movies of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 (a record) – with 2019 assured due to Avengers: Endgame (the sequel to 2018’s box office champion) and Star Wars: Episode IX (the sequel to 2017’s).
“Disney also took home each of the top five slots in 2016 (the first time this has ever been achieved), captured six of the top ten in 2017 (another record) and the top three of 2018. In the last decade, only 35 films have crossed the $1 billion mark globally. 19 came from Disney and over half of those films were released during the last three years alone.”
And in 2019 alone, Disney released five $1 billion films - the first studio to ever do this.
All content from the Disney vault and future content will ultimately find a home on the platform, executives have confirmed.
The love for the brand, and the brands now under Disney means that if subscriber volumes flag, it’s as simple as building another Marvel, Star Wars or Disney series for the platform, or moving a feature film originally slated for cinematic release to Disney+ to boost numbers.
And Disney executives are bullish on the launch. CEO Bob Iger in 2017 said Disney+ would “launch big” and “launch hot”, while Walt Disney Studios chief creative officer Alan Horn said the plan was to rip viewers away from Netflix.
He said Iger has approached him with the Disney+ plan, saying: “Let's start Disney+, let's stop feeding Netflix – which is the great disruptor of our business... but let's stop feeding Netflix with our own movies and go off and ... start our own service.
“We’re very, very excited about Disney+.”
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