The launch of Disney+ in 2019 was a major moment in the development of streaming. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video had dominated streaming for the best part of a decade, and while a few companies–most notably CBSViacom, with CBS All-Access–had launched their own services, at that point there was no real competition to these two digital giants.
This changed when Disney+ debuted exactly two years ago, on November 12, 2019. Disney had previously licensed many of its movies to Netflix, but by taking them back for its own platform, it presented the first real threat to the already established services. Disney owns three of the biggest franchises in modern movies–Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar–as well decades’ worth of classic animated and live-action movies and shows. In addition, the studio recently completed the purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets, greatly adding to its potential streaming catalog.
Two years on, Disney+ has grown in both the size of its offerings and its subscription base. The COVID-19 pandemic hit only a few months after launch and massively boosted subscription figures, with a total of 103.6 million users reported in April this year. These numbers have slowed in recent months–the studio recently revealed that it only picked up 2.1 million new customers in the last quarter, less than half of what Netflix added in the same period. Nevertheless, Disney states that it expects to have 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of 2024. An optimistic claim perhaps, but one that shows that studio execs still have faith in the power of its streaming content.