In a nutshell: Disney+ launched in November and is only available in a handful of countries, yet it managed to attract 26.5 million paying subscribers before 2019 was out. The company also revealed ESPN+ now has 6.6 million subscribers, while Hulu, where it has a controlling stake, has 30.4 million total customers.
The figures are from The Walt Disney Company's recent earnings report for the last quarter, which ended on December 28, 2019. In a call with inverstors, CEO Bob Iger said Disney+ subscriber numbers now stand at 28.6 million. He added that 50 percent came through direct sign-ups, 20 percent via the Verizon deal, and others from options like Apple or Roku.
The Disney+ figures aren't too surprising, given that the service attracted 10 million subscribers on its first day alone, and it's more than the 25 million expected by Wall Street analysts.
Disney+ still has a way to go before catching up to Netflix's 61 million US subscribers and 167 million worldwide customers, but it's only been available for less than three months and has yet to launch beyond the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. As for Apple, which debuted its Apple TV+ service just ahead of Disney+, it hasn't revealed any subscriber numbers.
It's expected that the arrival of MCU and Lucasfilm shows will boost subscriber numbers, as will the launch of Disney+ in more international markets. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier arrive in August, while WandaVision launches in December. Season two of The Mandalorian, meanwhile, will premier in October, but we could be waiting a while for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which is reportedly on hold.
Disney previously said it would have reached profitability by 2024 when it reaches between 60 million and 90 million subscribers, with two-thirds of those customers from outside the US, but it's likely to hit the numbers much sooner than estimated.