Disney Plus hits 116M subscribers, adding 12.4M while Loki and Luca landed
But, like Netflix, subscriber growth has cooled lately as competition heats up and pandemic-related demand has appeared to wane.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
ExpertiseStreaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation onlineCredentials
Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Thursday, Disney also noted that Hulu subscribers grew to 42.8 million and that ESPN Plus membership rose to 14.9 million.
Both Netflix and Disney Plus have struggled lately to maintain their white-hot growth, after they and other streaming options surged in popularity last year when people around the world were stuck at home and desperate for distraction in lockdown.
In addition to the pandemic-related peaks and valleys in demand for streaming services, these subscriber slowdowns also suggest intensifying competition. A flood of new streaming services may be crimping their individual growth as customers pick from a wider menu of possibilities.
For example, Disney Plus added 12.4 million new subscribers over the course of the latest quarter. But a year earlier, it reeled in nearly double that -- 24 million new members -- over the course of the same period as the service enjoyed its initial surge in popularity after launching.
Early on, Disney Plus proved to be the standout success of the so-called streaming wars, a period when seemingly every major media company (and some tech ones) rolled out their own streaming-video services. Disney Plus' growth has far outstripped that of all the new competitors from Apple, HBO, NBCUniversal, Discovery and others. One media analyst called Disney Plus "one of the greatest product launches of all time."
Disney estimates Disney Plus will have between 230 million and 260 million global subscribers by the time the service is 5 years old, in late 2024.
Not all Disney Plus subscribers are created equal. In Europe and in India, Disney Plus is bundled as part of a broader streaming offering. And in countries like India, the price of a subscription is a fraction of what it costs in other markets of the world.
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