During their Q4 2020 earnings report, Netflix revealed they surpassed 203 million subscribers in Q4 2020. That was a massive 8.51 million subscribers added in the quarter and a record 37 million paid memberships on the year. In comparison, in December, Disney+ revealed they had climbed to 86.8 million subscribers, with about 60 million outside of India.
So while many thought 2020 would be about the streaming wars – instead – it has shown there is room for multiple streaming service to thrive. Netflix Co-CEO Reed Hastings said on their Q4 2020 Earnings Call, “It’s super impressive what Disney has done. I mean it’s the incredible execution for an incumbent to pivot and taking on an insurgent…It shows that members are interested and willing to pay more for more content because they’re hungry for great stories, and Disney does have some great stories. And so it gets us fired up about increasing our membership, increasing our content budget.”
But the one area where Disney+ is still the runaway leader is with animation, which includes content from both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show by show, movie by movie. And we’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see, a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like Bridgerton, which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon,” said Hastings.
Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said that despite the high-profile launches on Christmas Day of “Soul” on Disney+, it didn’t stop them from having “what turns out to be one of our biggest launches ever” with “Bridgerton”.
When comparing the two companies, one also has to look at the revenue that the membership is creating, said COO Greg Peters. While Netflix is $13.99 a month, Disney+ is only $6.99. He says that by having a higher price point already it is the “fuel that we have to basically create more of that content to get that virtuous cycle flowing more.”
With 2021 underway, the streaming wars is more than just domination in the U.S., both companies are now focused on building big user bases around the world. But in the U.S. at least, with another 5 million or more likely to get rid of cable in 2021 – and more content than ever on streaming services – subscription streaming services are in for another big year.