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Disney Plus hits 94.9 million subscribers in just over a year

Disney's streaming service is nearly halfway to Netflix's number of subscribers -- and Netflix had a 12-year head start.

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Disney Plus grew to 94.9 million subscribers as of Jan. 2, Disney said Thursday. That's 8 million subscribers added since early November, and more than three times the number of subscribers that Disney Plus had a year earlier. 

By comparison, Netflix, the biggest subscription video service in the world, had more than 200 million global subscribers at the end of the year. Netflix blazed the path of subscription streaming video, starting its streaming business 13 years ago; Disney Plus launched about 15 months ago. 

Disney, disclosing the numbers as part of its quarterly earnings report Thursday, also said that Hulu has 39.4 million subscribers in the US, up 30% from a year earlier, and ESPN Plus has 12.1 million subscribers, up 83% from the year-earlier period. 

Overall, the popularity of Disney Plus has far outstripped Disney's own initial predictions: The company first projected Disney Plus would reach between 60 million and 90 million subscribers about five years after launch. But the company has now beaten even the top end of that range in 15 months. Last month, Disney recalibrated its projections, estimating that Disney Plus will have between 230 million and 260 million global subscribers by the time the service is five years old in late 2024. 

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