After a plethora of streaming competitors launched in 2020, Netflix still added a substantial number of subscribers. As impressive as Netflix’s sustained dominance was Disney+’s ability to quickly gain viewers. These developments show there’s room for multiple services to thrive in this fast-growing market.
But no other new US streaming service had a debut like Disney+ did—eMarketer estimates that it will reach 72.4 million US monthly viewers in 2020, its first full year in service. They forecast that more than one-fifth of the U-S population will use Disney+ this year, and in 2024, more than one-third will. So far, other streaming entrants suffered from distribution limitations, confusing branding, or a lack of quality programming. None of these problems have hampered Disney+, which will become the third most popular US streaming service by the end of 2024.
There is still plenty of time for other streamers to gain adoption. But other recent entrants into the streaming wars will struggle to immediately make a dent in the market, according to eMarketer.
During the pandemic, streaming has been one of few successes for The Walt Disney Co., which has suffered with theme parks and theaters sidelined. The company reorganized its media division to further emphasize streaming. While other media conglomerates are also restructuring their businesses to focus more on streaming, Disney’s pivot is particularly consequential because it operates numerous streamers including Hulu, ESPN+, and its upcoming Star service, named after the India-based media company that Disney acquired. This move will further solidify Disney as a streaming leader alongside stalwarts Netflix and Amazon.
Disney+’s success matters to marketers because it represents streaming services becoming more reliant on subscriptions than on advertising.