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Despite Early Glitch, Disney+ Streams Past 10M Subs

Jeff Baumgartner
11/14/2019

Its back-office systems buckled a bit under the stress caused by a surge of sign-ups out of the gate, but Disney+ recovered quickly as the new subscription VoD service notched 10 million subs soon after its commercial debut on November 12.

Disney announced the sign-up milestone on Wednesday, the day after the direct-to-consumer service launched in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. Disney noted that it does not plan to release updated Disney+ subscriber data beyond the company's quarterly earnings calls.

Disney+ -- a service that initially features a lineup of exclusive original fare and a catalog of content from properties such as Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic -- starts at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. It's also being pitched as a bundle with Hulu's ad-supported SVoD service and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.

Disney+'s quick start surpassed the expectations of some analysts. Michael Nathanson, analyst with MoffettNathanson, expected Disney+ to snap up at least 8 million subs "out of the gate" and extend that total to 18 million subs worldwide by Disney's fiscal 2020.

Disney itself is forecasting that Disney+ will have between 60 million and 90 million subs by fiscal 2024. The US-based media giant intends to scale up subscribers as Disney+ launches in additional markets around the globe. Disney+ is slated to launch in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico on November 19, and follow with debuts in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries in the region on March 31, 2020.

Despite sweeping past the 10 million mark, Disney did stumble with the launch early on as its service's back-office systems had trouble keeping up with demand, with users posting on Twitter and other social media outlets that they had received an "unable to connect" error message from the service:

Disney, which has spent more than $2.5 billion to acquire a majority stake in BAMTech (now called Disney Streaming Services), the unit that developed Disney+'s underlying OTT platform, didn't fully elaborate on the reasons for the technical snafu beyond noting that demand for the new service had exceeded the company's expectations.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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