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With real numbers, Disney+ finally roars to the world

The service's first numbers define it as the main competitor for Netflix in the streaming business

The streaming wars began in 2019, but it is common sense that 2020 will be a year for major changes in the market. Warner will launch HBO Max, NBC will present Peacock and Amazon will continue to invest in a good number of originals to match the prestige Netflix, the leader, reached in the past years.

However, it’s safe to say that this scenario measures the first battlefield of this dispute: North America. And even if consider that this kind of consumer has gone towards a global behavior, the streaming wars in Latin America and other regions are still in its early phases.

To give you an idea, we can use the numbers that Disney just released to talk about the launch of Disney+. Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney Company, shared that the recently announced streaming service reached 26.5 million subscribers mainly in the US and Canada. Iger said that this milestone is far beyond what they were expecting. Indeed, it’s a huge number if we consider that the rollout happened four months ago. On the other hand, Netflix, the main competitor in the market, has around 158 million users worldwide.

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Of course we can’t compare those numbers without saying how many years Netflix is in the market and how many countries they are online. Disney has just begun its mission on that side of entertainment and has a lot to learn – especially in the technology side of it with Reed Rasting’s company, but we’ll talk about that another time. In general, we can assume at this first moment that the Disney+ is the first real competitor for Netflix.

Although Amazon appears like a fair rival for its size as a company, it’s been clear in the past years that Bezos still has to improve a lot of things in the service if it wants to compete in this. Disney, on the other hand, did a first and really important move, but the game changer could be the presence around the world. 

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According to Iger, Disney intends to expand Disney+ to India and Europe in March. Latin American countries can come after that, possibly after July. Disney could stop there and define 2020 as a year to slowly grow and establish its streaming service but it will not be like that cause Iger himself confirmed that Hulu will be launched globally as well, after Disney+ has reached out to a good number of countries. So if we use that allegory of “wars” one more time, we can safely say that 2020 will be the year where Disney recognizes the ground by putting its troops (content) around the field (international markets), and slowly presents alternate weapons (Hulu) that can help them in this endeavour.

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Latin America for sure will be a region to pay attention in this battle, the 29 million Netflix subscribers around here confirm that and the growing internet access and power of consumption also pushes that notion to almost a certainty level. The pieces are on the board and will be here to watch them move every step of the way.