While just about every company in the world has been turned upside-down due to the global coronavirus pandemic, multi-armed businesses like Disney are facing downturns across the board. From the lack of theatrical film releases to all of its international theme parks being closed, the world of Disney is a shadow of its usual self, both in productivity and in the financial department. Thankfully, though, the announcement about Disney+'s huge subscriber milestone is helping the company save some face (and money).
It was announced this week in something of a surprise report that the Disney+ streaming service has, to date, brought in over 50 million paid subscribers since it launched in November. That is obviously a massive surge of customers for a service whose popularity is largely based on Disney's entertainment backlog, without a whole lot of new marquee projects having been released, with Star Wars' The Mandalorian being the lone exception on the TV side. (Don't get me wrong, Imagineering Story and HSM:TM:TS are great, but not the biggest audience-grabbers.)
The report's timing probably wasn't altogether random, since it was unveiled at a time when Disney's stocks weren't nearly as impressive as they usually are. (The company's stock had dropped 30.1% to date in 2020, while the Dow dropped 17.9%.) Indeed, Disney shares leapt up 5.4% after the 50-million-subscriber announcement went public. According to MarketWatch, the boastful report impressed J.P. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani, who had this to say:
We view Disney+ as a core driver to the company's extensive ecosystem of consumer touchpoints, which we believe will benefit the Parks and Studio once normal operations resume.
It's obviously not the easiest task in the world to lay out a 1:1 ratio for what Disney+'s success exactly means for Walt Disney World or Disneyland, much less the company's parks around the world, but any positive-minded port is a welcome one in a storm such as the ongoing pandemic. Particularly when this year was meant to set up Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebrations, not to mention capitalizing on the expanding Star Wars Galaxy's Edge parks.
50 million paid subscribers is clearly a good source of finances for Disney, and that number will likely only get higher. Not only because people continue to stay self-quarantined, but because Disney+ has a slew of Marvel-related content on the way, along with more Star Wars TV shows, which will almost definitely bringing millions more subscribers, assuming those shows' productions will be completed accordingly.
But even beyond new programming produced specifically for Disney+, the service has also been building up its subscriber base with international rollouts. In recent weeks, Disney+ went live for fans in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and Ireland, with further releases still to come in other areas of Western Europe, as well as Latin America and Japan. Disney might want to look into upping the pace on those rollouts, too, in order to keep making up for all the money being lost due to theme park closures.
Thankfully for the people spending the money at home, Disney has found ways to make Disney+ a draw even without a slew of original series, such as giving everyone the early home release of Pixar's latest comedic tearjerker Onward, and the company just announced today that The Simpsons' short film that was originally paired with will also be hitting the streaming service soon.
If only Disney+ had a way to give fans a virtual tour of its theme parks, fans might not ever need to leave home. But until then, stay tuned for more updates, and keep track of all the show productions that are currently delayed.