Disney has surpassed 137 million paid subscribers across all of its direct-to-consumer services, with Disney+ making the bulk of that base at 86.8 million subs as of December 2.
The media giant originally expected to reach 90 million Disney+ paying subscribers by 2023. It has since updated those goals, and is now targeting a reach of 230 million to 260 million paid subscribers for the SVOD in that same time frame, and 300 million to 350 million paid subs across all of its DTC services by 2024.
With those growth goals in mind, Disney revealed big plans for its streamers in the next few years at its virtual Investors Day presentation.
Facts and figures
Throughout the three-hour presentation, Disney announced a total of 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, and 15 Disney live-action, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar shows.
And on the feature side of its business, the company is planning 15 new live-action, animation and Pixar films that will be released directly on Disney+.
By 2024, Disney plans to be spending between US$8 billion and US$9 billion annually on content for Disney+ alone, and expects to invest between US$14 billion and US$16 billion in global direct-to-consumer content each year across its Disney+, Hulu and ESPN platforms.
CEO Bob Chapek (pictured) said that Disney has a target of 100-plus new titles per year to bulk up Disney+. In 2021,he says the platform will roll out 63 series and 42 films, 80% of which are will premiere on the streamer.
To deal with this massive influx of content, and the cost associated with it, Disney+ will increase its monthly subscription price in the US to US$8.
Disney+ is leaning into established properties, and has ordered live-action series based on Beauty and the Beast, the Swiss Family Robinson and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Walt Disney Animation Studios, typically a feature studio, is making its first-ever original animated series. Baymax!, Zootopia+ and Tiana are headed for Disney+ in 2022, followed by Moana in 2023. The shows are based on the Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Princess and the Frog and Moana movies, respectively.
Not known for collaborating, the studio is also pairing up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali to create a new science-fiction series called Iwájú that will launch on Disney+ in 2022.
Starting in January, Pixar will put out a new collection of mini-shorts starring some well-known characters from its library.
In fall 2023, Pixar will also launch its first-ever original long-form animated series. Win or Lose is about a middle-school softball team in the week leading up to their championship game.
Pixar plans on releasing two other series based on existing properties: Dug Days in fall 2021, and a new show set in the world of Cars in fall 2022.
Disney+ continues to build out the Star Wars universe with half a dozen new shows, including Rangers of the New Republic and Ahsoka—both set within the same timeline as The Mandalorian. Lando Calrissian, meanwhile, is getting his own series that will be developed by Justin Simien. For release next year, Lucasfilm is also working on an original series of animated short films about the Star Wars galaxy through the lens of Japanese anime creators. And Lucasfilm Animation is teaming up with Industrial Light & Magic to develop A Droid Story for Disney+.
While much of the Marvel update provided sneak-peeks into previously announced shows (WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, The Multiverse of Madness, Ms. Marvel and Loki), Disney announced Moon Knight, an original series about a complex vigilante. Secret Invasion, Ironheart and Armor Wars are three other all-new Marvel series heading to Disney+.
The streamer will launch a host of new flicks over the next year. Upcoming animated film Raya and the Last Dragon will roll out in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously on March 5. The US$30 “premier access” release follows a similar path as the one taken for Mulan, which was forced to alter its theatrical run when COVID-19 sent cinemas into lockdown.
Disney has also partnered with 20th Century Studios to adapt Tomi Adeyemi’s novel Children of Blood & Bone, which follows a young African girl’s quest to restore magic to her forsaken people.
Other SVOD movies on the docket include Flora and Ulysses, a live-action film about a young comic book fan and her super-powered squirrel sidekick, set to launch on February 19; a Cheaper by the Dozen reboot with a 2022 premiere; a live-action prequel of The Lion King; a Chip and Dale hybrid live-action/animated comedy; and an Enchanted sequel that’s aptly titled Disenchanted.
Outside the US, Disney is gearing up to launch Star and Star+, a general entertainment content service similar to Hulu. Star will be integrated into Disney+ in markets including Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The streamer will launch on February 23 in those regions, followed by Japan and South Korea later in 2021.