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Disney's 3 streaming services jumped into the US top 5, researcher says

Disney Plus' gangbusters rollout helped all three of Disney's streaming services round out the top-five US video subscriptions, following perennial leaders Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Walt Disney Pictures

Disney's bumper launch of Disney Plus in the last year has helped all three of the company's streaming services -- HuluDisney Plus and ESPN Plus -- to rank in the top-five most popular US streaming-video subscriptions, according to estimates from researcher Parks Associates Wednesday. 

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to hold court as No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, respectively. But Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus round out the top five, according to Parks' latest ranking of the biggest over-the-top subscriptions services in the US through the end of September. 

Disney Plus' launch was already widely regarded as one of the strongest rollouts ever in the streaming-video market. Among the raft of newer services that've launched in the last year -- including Apple TV PlusHBO Max and Peacock -- Disney Plus has emerged as the clear front-runner by subscribers. Disney Plus has grown to 73.7 million subscribers as of Oct. 3, the company said last week as it reported earnings. Disney also introduced a three-way bundle lumping all of its streaming services together for $13 a month last year, helping piggyback ESPN Plus on Disney Plus' popularity. (Hulu has consistently been No. 3 in Parks' ranking.)

Notably, Apple TV Plus, which launched the week before Disney Plus did last year, hit No. 8 in Parks' annual ranking. Apple has never divulged subscriber numbers for its streaming service, making its popularity a bit of a mystery. Apple also offered unusually generous free trials lasting a year or more to anyone who's bought an Apple device since September 2019, meaning many of Apple's subscribers have likely never paid for the service. 

In Parks' ranking, Apple TV Plus is now positioned right below HBO Max, which its parent company recently disclosed has 8.6 million sign-ups. 

NBCUniversal's Peacock didn't make Parks' list, which is based on the number of people signed up to a paid subscription. Peacock is unique among many of its competitors in that it has a free tier. Free Peacock accounts are limited in how much of its catalog is available to stream; by upgrading to a paid subscription, a member can watch anything Peacock has available. 

"Peacock is starting to make inroads in terms of paid subscriptions, but currently the base for that service is mainly comprised of users of the free ad-supported tier," Parks said. 

Parks full ranking of over-the-top video subscriptions in the US is as follows: 

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon Prime Video
  3. Hulu
  4. Disney Plus
  5. ESPN Plus
  6. HBO Max
  7. Apple TV Plus
  8. CBS All Access
  9. Showtime
  10. Starz
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