(Pocket-lint) - Disney recently announced that Disney+ had smashed through 100 million users worldwide, surpassing all original expectations for the service that launched in late 2019.
Netflix has just over 200 million subscribers and before Disney's entry, looked uncatchable. That doesn't seem to be the case any longer, especially with Disney adding more adult content to Disney+ under the Star brand internationally.
Star offers a bunch of recent and new series such as Big Sky and Love, Victor as well as classics such as 24, Lost and The X Files from Disney's catalogue. Disney now says that 'direct to consumer' is its top priority.
Of course, much of Disney+'s early growth was backed up by its other peerless brands, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and Pixar plus the promise of The Mandalorian, which has now finished its second season.
Disney has now revised its own targets according to The Guardian. Having previously believed it would take five years to reach 90 million subscribers, it has now targeted 260 million subscribers by 2024 to Disney+ as well as ESPN+ and Hulu in the US that it also owns. It's also doubled its content budget in that timeframe accordingly, to $15 billion.
Analyst Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight suggests that Disney is "benefiting from low hanging fruit by mirroring Netflix’s strategy."
"Exceeding 100 million subs in a short period of time is an incredible achievement. The next 100 million will not be too far away with the addition of more blockbusters and launch into new markets. Thereafter, growth will inevitably slow down."
"It's apparent that Disney Plus is now an indispensable video streaming service alongside Netflix."
Disney+ launched Austria, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland nearly a year ago and, naturally, that coincided with the start of people staying at home more which no doubt helped people jump on board, as well as a tempting first-year offer for $59.99/£59.99 which has now expired.
Disney's original conservative estimates made sense at the time - Netflix took a decade to reach 100 million subscribers and a further four years to reach 200 million while key long-standing rival Amazon Prime Video is estimated to have just shy of 150 million subscribers.
According to independent analyst Ampere Analysis, Disney+ will overtake Prime Video in term,s of subscriber numbers in 2024, while Netflix will remain ahead until 2025.
In a recent statement, Bob Chapek, Disney's CEO said: "The enormous success of Disney+ —which has now surpassed 100 million subscribers—has inspired us to be even more ambitious and to significantly increase our investment in the development of high-quality content.
"In fact, we set a target of 100+ new titles per year, and this includes Disney Animation, Disney Live Action, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic."