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Disney+ Review Update: 90 Days Later
Three months in, we still love The Mandalorian, but we need to see more original content from Disney+ before we're truly impressed.
Ninety days later, it's time for an update on Disney+. The hype last year was real and it was big. When Disney+ came out on November 12, 2019, and we were all finally introduced to Baby Yoda, the world let out a collective sigh of relief. Ahhh finally, I can get an IV drip of Disney straight into my veins.
via E! Online
We're 90 days into it, and this new era of good feelings, the honeymoon, the doe-eyed, rose-colored glasses phase is coming to a close. Now we can look at Disney+ with a little more critical eye.
So how's it holding up? Pretty freaking well, actually.
Yes, Disney+ had some technical issues on day one. But that's probably just because of how many people signed up for it on the first day. That was about 10 million people.1 Things have looked better for the app since then. So tech-wise, things should be smooth sailing from here on out.
I'm not going to review Disney+ again because it hasn't really changed much in its first three months. But you can check out our original video review of Disney+ here.
Instead of a review, we're going to look at the following aspects of Disney+ at the 90-day mark:
- Where Disney+ is with its subscriber count
- How it's fitting into the streaming landscape generally
- Whether it's keeping the promise it made to be the must-have streaming service on the block
Let's dive in.
Disney+ is exceeding expectations for subscriber count.
Craig told you so.
Analysts were expecting Disney+ to hit 20 million subscribers by the end of 2019.2 I've been saying for a while that all those analysts, including Disney's own, have been lowballing those subscriber estimates big time. And, as always, I was right. *cue "Craig’s always right" montage* Look, I'm not sorry about it.
In fact, Disney+ racked up 28.6 million subscribers in its first three months. That's what Disney+ announced last week.3 So by the time you're seeing this, let's just call it 29 million subscribers.
How does Disney+'s subscriber count compare to its competitors?
Disney+ still has a ways to go to catch Netflix, which ended 2019 with more than 167 million subscribers.4
But Disney+ is doing really well compared to some other pretty popular services. HBO Now, for instance, has only eight million subscribers.5
Another competitor would be AppleTV+, which came out around the same time. But AppleTV+—which, I'm on record saying, has some great shows—won't even report their subscriber numbers. That could mean nothing, or it could be an indication that their numbers are weak.6
Reasons to expect further subscriber growth
Disney can expect massive growth driven through their upcoming international subscribers. Disney+ will be released in the UK and much of Europe on March 24 and to some other European and Latin American countries later in 2020 and 2021.3 They'll pick up some pretty major subscriber counts just by expanding into these new markets.
Disney also expects a bump this fall when it releases new Marvel and Lucasfilm shows. Coming up in August, we've got The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WandaVision comes out in December. We're getting a new Mandalorian season in October, and then there's the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, which actually has been put on hold for now because the script—the script written by the screenwriters behind Drive and The Mandalorian—didn't meet the exacting standards of Kathleen Kennedy.7
"I find your lack of faith disturbing." — Darth Vader
Disney+ needs more original content.
That brings us to what I see as the thing holding Disney+ back. Wait, what? They got almost 30 million subscribers in three months, and I'm saying that they're held back? Sort of, yeah. This is something I've been talking about for a little while now.
Disney+ needs to concentrate on their original content. It has a lot of vault content, and that's great. Disney opened up the vault, and here we are with all these subscribers. But if we wanna talk about the state of Disney+ currently, that actually gets us to the thing to take note of: the lack of compelling original content. Yes, I said it.
It's not that there's no original content. But besides The Mandalorian, is there anything that really got people talking? The World According to Jeff Goldblum got some chatter for a few days at the beginning, but that died down pretty quickly.
Source: Google Trends
And other than that, not much. The chatter is all about what's coming up later.
Upcoming original content from Disney+
All this chatter will grow as we move through 2020 and into 2021. And I'm really looking forward to the new content. I've already mentioned The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Mandalorian season two, and then in the next 18 months, give or take, we'll see Loki, Hawkeye, Marvel's What If . . . ?, Moon Knight, She-Hulk (believe it or not), Ms. Marvel, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series (fingers crossed), The Cassian Andor Variety Hour (or whatever that's going to be called), Muppets Now, Diary of a Future President, and many more titles.
Look, the vault is the vault, and if you were really excited to finally get access to Johnny Tsunami, you already signed up. But if Disney+ wants to pick up more subscribers and catch up to Netflix, it will have to get into this arms race for original content.
It's a snowball effect, just like what Netflix is going for. With all these upcoming original shows, you may not care about most of them, but you will care about some of them. Disney is hoping it's enough to keep you around for season two of whatever show you're following or the hot show that's coming up next month. Or maybe they'll just dangle the Kenobi series in front of us for years.
"I have a bad feeling about this." — Obi-Wan Kenobi
The bottom line: Disney+'s future depends upon the quality of original programming.
Has Disney+ kept up its end of the bargain in its first 90 days? Just based on the "50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong" argument, we'd have to say, yeah, it has. Otherwise Disney+ wouldn't be exceeding its subscriber-count projections.
But if Disney+ wants to continue to exceed those expectations, it doesn't have any more vaults to throw open. It's going to have to count on new, original content to drive growth. So far, so good. The Mandalorian is great, but we'll have to see a lot more Mandalorian-quality stuff in the not-too-distant future to keep the momentum that Disney+ has going.
So what are you most excited for on Disney's upcoming slate? Is it Marvel stuff, Star Wars stuff, or is it the new Lizzie McGuire reboot? Be honest. Hit the comments and let us know.