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Netflix can hold off Disney Plus until 2026, new research suggests

Streaming service apps on an iPhone screen
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It looks like Netflix may weather the streaming storm, after all. 

As reported by Deadline (opens in new tab), new research conducted by UK data firm Omdia suggests Netflix will remain the world’s most popular streaming service until at least 2026. Disney Plus will continue to grow at a faster rate, the company predicts, but won’t eclipse its biggest competitor as soon as previously thought (other analysts (opens in new tab) had forecast a Disney Plus ascendancy by 2024).

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers between January and March of this year, a figure that’s expected to exceed two million come the end of June. But, according to Omdia, the streamer will enjoy a small reversal of fortune to boast around 260 million subscribers to Disney Plus’ 240 million in 2026. 

The new research will come as a welcome reprieve for Netflix amid customer frustrations around its unpopular price increases, waning content quality and creative cancel culture

Omdia’s findings don’t predict a dramatic change in trajectory for the company – they suggest the Netflix subscriber base will only grow by around 40 million in the next four years – but the data nonetheless points towards a lengthy stay of execution.

For clarity, Netflix and Disney Plus recorded, in March 2022, total subscriber numbers of 221.6 million and 137.7 million, respectively. 

Infographic demonstrating streaming service subscriber numbers as of March 2022

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Omdia also predicts that, by 2026, HBO Max and Prime Video will both serve around 150 million subscribers, with Peacock and Paramount Plus the next two most popular streaming services on the block.

Don’t sleep on the re-subscribers 

As well as indicating trends specific to individual streaming services, Omdia’s findings also shine a light on an often underreported metric of industry-wide health: re-subscribers. 

According to the firm, 45% more streaming services were canceled in the UK over the past 12 months, but re-subscriptions rose by an almighty 84%. There’s no knowing whether the same trend has taken hold globally, but, as Deadline reports, the data does show that higher churn doesn’t necessarily mean subscriptions are being ditched altogether.

In fact, the number of subscriptions to on-demand video services actually grew by 11% in the UK last year, suggesting that the rising cost of living isn’t impacting streaming habits as much as many first thought. 

At a presentation announcing the findings, Omdia Senior Director Maria Rua Aguete said: “In terms of dealing with rising costs, consumers prefer to cut other expenses than their own entertainment at home. In fact, as [our] survey reveals, cuts in other spending has allowed them to subscribe to extra services.” 

Perhaps, then, re-subscriptions will upend Netflix's negative subscriber curve in the coming months – if, that is, the streamer can prove itself a service worth coming back to. 

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Tesla models to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and a degree in English Literature means he can occasionally be spotted slipping Hemingway quotes into stories about electric sports cars.