Disney+ streaming exceeds expectations with 10 million sign-ups, shares surge


By Helen Coster

(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co <DIS.N> on Wednesday said its new streaming service, Disney+, reached 10 million sign-ups since launching the previous day from "extraordinary consumer demand," sending shares up 3.5%.

The strong first day performance appears to establish Disney as a leading player in the streaming wars that pit it against industry leader Netflix Inc <NFLX.O>, Amazon.com Inc's <AMZN.O> Prime Video service, Apple Inc's <AAPL.O> Apple TV+ and AT&T Inc's <T.N> forthcoming HBO Max service.

And although Disney's day one numbers were more than three-times the size of some forecasts, it was not immediately clear how many of these new customers were from free promotions.

In October Disney and telecom provider Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N> announced a promotion that made all new and existing Verizon unlimited wireless customers, as well as new Fios and 5G home internet customers, eligible for a free, one-year subscription to Disney+.

Ahead of the launch, Disney executives said they expected between 17 million to 19 million new subscribers as a result of the Verizon promotion. Verizon told Reuters in October they expected even more of its customers will have access to the deal.

In April Disney said it plans to reach 60 million to 90 million Disney+ subscribers globally by 2024. In a note on Wednesday, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wrote that at its current pace, Disney could hit that subscriber goal potentially two years earlier.

Netflix currently has over 60 million subscribers in the United States and 158 million globally.

Disney+, which launched in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands on Tuesday, was hit with technical glitches that the company said were caused by higher-than-expected demand.

The service costs $7 per month and features roughly 500 movies and 7,500 TV episodes from the company's deep family entertainment catalog as well as new programming. A bundle including ESPN+ and Hulu costs $13.

Disney said moving forward, it has no plans to release Disney+ subscriber data outside of the company's quarterly earnings calls.

(Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


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