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Disney Plus passes 50 million paid subscribers – here's how it compares to Netflix

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Disney Plus has passed 50 million paying subscribers globally in the five months since launch, Disney has confirmed. It's an enormously impressive number, given that Disney Plus hasn't even released in many major territories yet. 

This follows the recent March launch of the service in parts of Europe, including the UK and Ireland. Disney Plus also just launched in India as part of the Hotstar service. Disney notes that eight million of its subscribers come from India.

Disney also explained more about its plans to expand the service to Japan and Latin America later in 2020. "We’re truly humbled that Disney+ is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year," said Disney's Kevin Mayer.

For comparison, Netflix reported it had 167.1 million subscribers as of the end of 2019. Disney's own target was 60-90 million users by its 2024 financial year, so it's an amazing start. 

There's not much point in comparing the launch of Netflix to the launch of Disney Plus: both launched in very different times. But clearly people have found room in their lives for both, and Disney always felt like it was built to complement other services rather than being the main streaming offering for most people. 

Why the big number?

A number of factors have driven Disney Plus's success. The launch was an event in itself, as viewers got to stream a lot of beloved and previously elusive movies in one place. Then its first major original, The Mandalorian, absolutely caught fire with audiences, helped by the Baby Yoda phenomenon.

In the time since, Disney created enormous interest in the US by releasing the movies Frozen 2 and Onward on the service early. They've compensated for a lack of higher-profile originals. The UK version of the service, meanwhile, launched with a pre-order deal that cut the price off a year's subscription. 

What happens next is going to be interesting. Some of Disney Plus's biggest upcoming originals paused production over the current health crisis, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision. The former is due to release in August, while the latter is meant to arrive in December.

Meanwhile, the upcoming film Artemis Fowl is now coming straight to Disney Plus instead of hitting theaters first. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is also likely to hit the service at some point this year.