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Millennial Parents & Gen Z Are Propelling Disney Plus to Success

Fern Siegel

Disney+ has turned one — and the streamer has found its dominant audience: Gen Z adults and millennials.

As of August, Disney+ reported over 60 million subscribers, and the biggest loyalty is coming from specific demos, according to a new Morning Consult report. Since early 2020, 44% of Gen Zs report using Disney+ once a week; so did 42% of millennials.

The numbers see a weekly uptick with millennial parents, at 49%. Even 33% of millennials without kids are on board. Disney+ also shelled out $3 billion on tech and content to enter the streaming market.

How does that compare with Apple TV+, which debuted at the same time?

Morning Consult data finds that since its November 2019 release, 10% of U.S. adults use Apple TV+ at least once a week, on average, compared with 26% who prefer Disney+.

One reason for the difference is brand perception.

Allen Adamson, managing partner of brand marketing firm Metaforce, said company reputation matters. “Disney has been creating content since Mickey Mouse,” he said. “Apple has been in the computer business.” In short, Disney means something to watch; Apple means a new device.

A big plus for Disney is its extensive content library — original Disney titles, as well as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar. Apple TV+ doesn’t boast that built-in advantage. Disney could leverage brands; Apple started from scratch.

(Still, Apple reportedly spent $6 billion on original content, attracting A-list names such as Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Apple’s “The Morning Show” had a budget of $15 million per episode, noted 9to5Mac).

“Disney+ has been a really strong success for Disney, so much so that Disney has refocused significant parts of its business to bolster that and make it even more successful in the future,” Brett Sappington, vice president at Interpret, a global market research company specializing in the entertainment industry, told Morning Consult.

The pandemic has boosted many streamers, but the consistency of Disney+’s audience suggests, in Adamson’s words, it’s a “must-have versus nice-to-have” platform.

For Disney+, expanded global reach is key. Conversely, Apple TV+ needs a breakout show that draws users to the service. That strategy put Netflix on the map — and Apple needs to emulate it.

“They need something big,” Sappington said. “They need something that people can’t do without and really need to come watch.”

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