Never let it be said that the Disney company is not an efficient engine for the liberating of disposable income from people in exchange for the opportunity to look at pictures of adorable puppets: Disney+ is now, formally a hit, with the company announcing today that its nascent streaming service has racked up 86.8 million paid subscriptions planetwide during its first year in operation—a metric just shy of the 90 million customers it was hoping to field by its fourth year in operation back when this whole thing launched.
This is per a big, braggy investors call the company held today to talk up its streaming operations, including its plans to expand the ever fucking shit (our terminology, not theirs, although the implication is clear) out of their Star Wars and Marvel TV brands. And, really, it’s hard to fault them: 86.8 million is an extremely good number to put up on the big board, especially in a year that saw one streaming service (Oscar-winner Quibi) fold outright, and another (Warner Bros.’ HBO Max) get off to a relatively much slower start. (HBO Max, which costs roughly twice as much per month as Disney+, had roughly 38 million paying subscribers or “activated” accounts in October, according to The Verge.)
The upshot of which is, presumably, that we sure do all like that Baby Yoda, huh? (Also: Rapping founding fathers.) But really, Disney kind of needed Disney+ to be a bigger than expected hit this year; COVID-19 blew up the company’s theatrical and theme park revenues, after all, even if it might have driven more people toward streaming. Certainly, the success of Disney+ hasn’t stopped aggressive and heavy-handed cost-cutting company wide; Disney has laid off some 32,000 people in 2020, cutting its estimated number of employees by more than a tenth.