Netflix controls the most number of subscribers, but Disney is gaining faster than anyone thought possible.
Over the course of 2020, streaming services took major leaps forward. The pandemic crippled theaters, and people turned to what they could watch safely at home. But you know all that. What you don't know is how many people turned, and what that means moving forward.
As of right now, Netflix has 182.8 million subscribers, making it one of the world's largest entertainment services. It dwarfs everyone in comparison. The last time there was a wide survey, Disney+ had a sub count of 86.8 million. As of writing this, people think they're much closer to 100 million.
Sure, it looks like a huge gap between Netflix and Disney, but a recent report from Digital TV Research projects that the number of subscribers to Disney+ will reach 294 million in 2026, exceeding the 286 million that it estimates Netflix will reach then.
Given the rate at which Disney+ and Netflix are growing, they measure it will only take five years for them to take the official lead. With Disney releasing dozens of new shows geared at teens and kids, it seems like the service will be a "must-own" for households with children.
If you want to compare those to the rest, it is predicted that Amazon's Prime service 184 million globally, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia's HBO Max 50 million, and technology giant Apple's Apple TV+ 11 million.
It's clear Netflix and Disney+ are the marquee names. But it's crazy to imagine just two companies fighting over that much share of the market. The research firm forecasts that global revenue for Disney+ will hit $20.76 billion by 2026, half of Netflix's $39.52 billion.
That's enough money to pay for a lot of content, so it should make creatives feel excited, but it also means it limits the number of places you can sell. I love Disney+, but I think them making projects geared specifically toward families might limit what we get to see. They won't buy the new Scorsese or Nolan or Bigelow.
Netflix caters toward everyone, so that makes me a little more optimistic.
Either way, both companies will have to focus globally. It's not just the U.S. and Europe who are consumers anymore. India is growing fast and wanting more Bollywood films and shows.
Digital TV Research's principal analyst Simon Murray said, "Disney+ Hotstar will roll out to 13 Asian countries by 2026. These countries will supply 108 million (37 percent) of the global Disney+ subscriber total, but only $2.62 billion (13 percent) of the platform’s revenues by 2026. Hotstar subscribers pay less than a third of the monthly subscription fee of their U.S. counterpart."
The world and streaming services are changing fast.
Those other networks and streamers are going to have to do a lot to keep up. I hope it leads to more jobs.