Following its recent second quarter earnings report, Netflix leads the streaming industry by a wide margin with a hefty 182 million worldwide subscribers. That’s a lot of paying customers. And yet, there’s reason to wonder how much longer Netflix can maintain its vise-grip on the streaming crown. Amazon Prime boasts more than 100 million global subscribers with roughly one-third of that total estimated to be using Prime Video; Hulu has surpassed 30 million subscribers and is expected to benefit from Disney’s ownership; WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock are launching in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Disney+ continues to exceed all expectations.
Disney executives were aiming for between 60 million and 90 million global subscribers by 2024. As of Disney’s earnings report last week, Disney+ had already accrued 54.5 million users since its November launch. It’s safe to say that the streaming service is well ahead of schedule and benefitting from the coronavirus pandemic, similarly to Netflix. Now, analysts are projecting big numbers for the service over the next several years.
Disney+ is projected to surpass 202 million global subscribers by 2025, according to Digital TV Research analyst Simon Murray via The Hollywood Reporter. This marks a 60 percent increase compared to his most recent estimate. On the back of flagship series The Mandalorian, Disney+ has seen a successful rollout in a small handful of European countries and expects to be available globally by 2021.
In the early going, the service has thrived thanks to the collection of blockbuster brands Disney has amassed over the years: Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, etc. Moving forward, Disney+ will add a litany of high-profile original series such as multiple Star Wars and Marvel shows and miniseries to further drive growth. But at the same time, it may not be enough to catch Netflix. Digital TV Research also revised its estimates to 258 million (from 238 million) subscribers for the market-leader.
“We have completely revised our forecasts for 138 countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murray wrote, per THR. “A major impact of lockdown has been a steep rise in SVOD subscriptions.”
Elsewhere, the firm predicts Amazon to reach 141 million subs, up from their previous estimate of 134 million, followed by HBO Max (25 million) and Apple TV+ (14 million). While these projections are far from concrete as evidence by how much they’ve changed in a few short months, they speak to the larger trend of content consumption. Viewers are steadily migrating to direct-to-consumer platforms with an estimated 519 million new streaming subscriptions between 2019 and 2025. Linear television continues to decline as a result. This is not a new phenomenon in the world of television, but it will reshape the industry in ways both predictable and unexpected over the next several years.