Revised Streaming Subscriber Expectations: Disney+, Peacock

Streaming Service Customer Churn
Cheyne Gateley/VIP+

Editor’s Note: A data analysis within the original version of the article below has been removed due to its inadequate explanation of the measurement.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek at a Goldman Sachs conference earlier this week said that Disney+ would add fewer subscribers in calendar Q3 than it did in the quarter prior. 

While early 2021 saw Disney+ drop big series like “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” no TV show of that caliber (i.e., a live-action and star-driven Marvel series) dropped in August. The last major show Disney+ debuted was “Loki,” which dropped its last episode in mid-July. 

Moreover, the most recent day-and-date releases for Disney were “Black Widow” (July 9) and “Jungle Cruise” (July 30). 

There have been signs elsewhere that recent Disney+ growth hasn’t been stellar. Apptopia data analyzed by VIP+ in mid-September revealed that global mobile downloads of Disney+ had steadily trended downward between July 1 and August 31. 

Peacock placed live streams of Olympic men’s basketball (the gold medal game of which aired August 6) on its $4.99/month premium tier. Moreover, WWE’s SummerSlam 2021 (which counted over 50,000 in attendance) was a perk of Peacock’s premium tier in August. 

And VIP previously speculated that, based on Apptopia data, Olympics men’s basketball in August didn’t cause a surge in Peacock usage and that the streamer likely saw a bigger bump from the Tokyo Games in July closer to when the event started.  

Disney+ had 116 million subscribers as of July and aims to reach at least 230 million by 2024. Peacock reported 20 million monthly users in July and aims to reach at least 30 million by 2024

Churn rates have likely become a bigger focus among the video streamers that launched post-November 2019 as notable promotions have expired. 

Disney+ and Apple TV+, which both launched in November 2019, initially attempted to accelerate growth by giving one year of their services for free to Verizon customers and Apple device purchasers, respectively.  

Over two-thirds of promo customers stuck with Disney+ after their free trial expired, Verizon said in January 2021.  

Meanwhile, Apple in June of this year shortened its Apple TV+ freebie length to Apple device purchasers from one year to three months. Apple TV+ currently has around 40 million subscribers, and about half of those are on free trials, according to a September report by The Information.  

“Ted Lasso” has helped Apple TV+ gain momentum in the past year, but it (along with other SVODs) can’t rely on one buzzy title for long-term growth. 

VIP and the Maru Group in May found that a fifth of adults 18+ had canceled a service after signing up to watch a specific title.