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Disney+ lures 10m subscribers a day after launch

Hasan Chowdhury
The streaming service launched on Tuesday in the US, Canada and the Netherlands - AFP

Disney’s streaming service hit 10 million subscribers just one day after its launch on Tuesday, exceeding analyst expectations as “extraordinary demand” for the Netflix rival sent the company’s shares soaring. 

Disney+, which launched in the US, Canada and the Netherlands, has seen a surge of interest from viewers looking to access content exclusive to the media conglomerate, such as Star Wars and Pixar films.  

Earlier this year, Disney said it hoped to attract between 60m and 90m subscribers to its streaming service by 2024, but current growth means the company could reach its target subscriber numbers by 2022, according to Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush. 

The streaming market has become increasingly competitive in recent months, with both tech and traditional media firms throwing their weight behind investment into streaming to overthrow Netflix.

There are already signs of Netflix's market dominance faltering, after the company warned in a letter to shareholders last month that new competition could squeeze its growth. 

Disney +, which has made a library of 500 films and 7,500 TV episodes available to viewers on its debut, has had a limited launch in three countries, versus Apple’s rival video streaming service, Apple TV+, which launched on Nov 1 in more than 100 countries. 

The Apple service has been made freely available for a year to customers, who will then pay a fee of £4.99 per month to keep watching. Meanwhile Disney +, which will be made available in the UK at the end of March 2020, has yet to confirm a price for UK customers.  

Disney’s foray into streaming has not been without a few bumps, however, as its debut faced technical issues on launch day. A number of viewers across multiple platforms such as Apple’s iOS and Android were met with error messages. Disney blamed the errors on high “consumer demand”.  

Nonetheless the positive news on subscriber numbers pushed Disney shares up 7pc in trading on Wednesday. 

Tom Harrington, at Enders Analysis, said its growth had been aided by millions of free subscriptions being given away to Verizon mobile customers.

“It’s certainly a healthy start to Disney+’s quest for scale at all costs. But there are unresolved lumpy architectural issues with the service that were inevitable since Disney has never done anything like this,” he said.

Mr Harrington added that hiccups in the service ran the risk of early subscribers taking the view that “Netflix works better”.