Disney Overtakes Netflix in Streaming Subscriptions

By Jessica Lerner 

In the so-called streaming wars, a new victor has appeared to have emerged.

Disney’s overall streaming portfolio—which includes Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu—has reached 221 million subscriptions worldwide, compared to Netflix’s 220 million subscribers.

Disney+, which increased from 137.7 million subscribers in May to 152.1 million, accounted for the majority of that growth. The number of subscribers for both Hulu and ESPN+ increased slightly, from 45.6 million to 46.2 million and 22.3 million to 22.8 million, respectively.


In stark contrast to the industry as a whole, Disney’s gains are considerable.

Netflix reported a loss of roughly 1 million customers during its second-quarter earnings call in July, marking the company’s highest-ever subscriber decline and the second quarter of declining viewership. The news, however, exceeded Netflix’s earlier predicted decline of 2 million subscribers.

However, the way the streamers count subscribers may not be the same thing. Disney counts households that subscribe to the Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, as three individual subscriptions. According to Netflix, the streamer counts its subscribers only once.

In 2017, Disney bet on developing a streaming service to compete with Netflix as viewers shifted away from traditional cable and broadcast television in favor of online viewing.

And as Disney’s dominance grows, analysts predict things could get worse for Netflix.

“Disney is gaining market share when Netflix is struggling to add more subscribers,” Investing.com analyst Haris Anwar told Reuters. “Disney has still more room to grow in international markets where it’s rolling out its service fast and adding new customers.”

To help attract new subscribers, both Disney and Netflix plan to offer ad-supported tiers. Starting Dec. 8, Disney+ will offer an ad-supported tier for $7.99, compared to the ad-free version at $10.99. Netflix will launch an ad-supported tier in early 2023, though the price isn’t yet known.