Last month was a big deal if you were paying attention to the escalating battle among streaming video services. Both Apple TV+ and Disney+ launched, with the latter coming online just three weeks ago today. Despite a rocky start that included missing apps and problems with--you know--streaming pretty much anything, Disney+ did something both impressive and unexpected: It basically won the streaming war by the beginning of December.
Or, at least, it won the first major battle in what is becoming a more intense fight with each new service that joins this multi-front war. Consider this: Disney+ signed up 10 million subscribers on its first day, and industry analysts predict it is adding as many as a million more every day. By Thanksgiving, the Disney+ app had been downloaded 15 million times.
Most estimates had Disney+ reaching 60 million subscribers sometime in the middle of the next decade. Now, it's not unrealistic to think it might happen by 2022.
In many ways, Disney has created the perfect set of circumstances to make its victory all but inevitable. It started when it partnered with Verizon to offer a year of Disney+ for free to the mobile carrier's Unlimited customers.
That offer came at the same time as an extremely aggressive marketing effort that put Disney+ everywhere. There's nothing that Disney does better than marketing, and it pulled out all the stops for its new service. Then, of course, there's the content library that fans couldn't get enough of--the demand for which literally broke the internet.
The Star Wars series The Mandalorian took less than a week to become the most viewed streaming series ever, beating out Netflix's Stranger Things. Can you say, "In love with baby Yoda, America is?" I think we're at the point where it's fair to state the obvious: Disney+ has won the streaming war.
Don't believe me? Here's a little test. Imagine you could only keep one streaming service. Which would you choose? Do you choose Netflix, which still has great content but is quicklylosing its most popular shows?
Maybe you'd stick with Amazon Prime--after all, it's basically free if you're paying for a Prime membership anyway. Of course, that's not exactly the best argument for picking a winner. HBO has some of the highest-quality content, but it's also more expensive, and it's flagshipHBO Max is still months away.
For a majority of users, the answer is probably Disney+. Of course, in the real world, you don't have to choose only one, so the question is a little more complicated. But there isn't another streaming service that has the following going for it:
Content for everyone
Disney has arguably the most valuable content library--period. It's true that Netflix has really upped its game. It's also true that HBO has long been known for high-quality shows like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. But Disney+ has literally the most valuable franchises anywhere with both Star Wars and Marvel. Oh, and it's the home of the animation wonder-studio Pixar.
Room to grow
Netflix is still far larger than Disney+ by a long shot, with 60 million U.S. subscribers. It'll take some time for Disney to get there, but it has plenty of runway. Ten million subscribers is a pretty good place to start, and there's every reason to expect that Disney is in a unique position to keep those subscribers, even those who will have to start paying when their free year is up.
The reason is simple: that content library. Who wants to be the parent who tells their kid, "Sorry, you can't watch The Lion King or Star Wars anymore, because we aren't going to pay for Disney+." Especially when you consider ...
The price is right
Even if you aren't a Verizon customer, Disney+ is only $6.99 a month. Aside from Apple TV+, which, let's admit, isn't even in this battle anymore, that's the least expensive streaming service out there other than ESPN+. And you can bundle both of those services, along with Hulu, for only $12.99. That's the same price as Netflix, and $3 per month cheaper than HBO. That alone is a pretty significant win.