Disney+ has now been available in the UK for six months, after a perfectly timed launch in March that coincided the start of a nationwide lockdown. Many subscribed to entertain themselves and their family while confined to their homes with some new-found free time. Data from our syndicated research tracker ScreenThink shows a strong start for the service, with fieldwork taking place in June, three months after launch when it had already built up an impressive subscriber base – third largest in the UK, surpassing more established services like Now TV.  

What does a Disney+ subscriber look like?

Subscribers of Disney+ skew younger as well as female, and are more likely to be parents with children living at home (35%, compared to 27% of the total population). In comparison to users of other services, they are more likely to sign up because they believe the service to have a wide range of kids content and because they intend to use it to entertain children during lockdown – an on-demand library of Disney favourites, as well as exclusive new children’s content is a winning combo for those juggling childcare and working from home. Disney+ users are also more likely to have pay-TV, particularly Sky Q, proving that Disney’s multi-year deal with Sky has successfully encouraged Sky Q customers to sign up to the service.  

Source: MTM ScreenThink H1 2020

What’s the appeal?

The exclusive nature of programming on Disney+ has resonated well with subscribers, and the success of the service is largely down to its impressive selection of films – including much loved classics as well as recent titles from multiple studios. Users of Disney+ are impressed with the film content available – they are more likely than users of most other services to perceive the selection to be wide ranging and up to date, with Netflix being the only other SVOD service to score higher for these metrics.

As well the content available on the service, lockdown was a key factor for many in deciding to sign up to Disney+:

  • 36% of Disney+ users signed up during lockdown because it added something new to their existing subscriptions
  • 23% signed up during lockdown because they had more time on their hands
  • 19% signed up to entertain children during lockdown

It is worth noting that lockdown related reasons were also popular for signing up to existing services, but particularly newer ones such as Apple TV+ and BritBox, who both saw a rise in subscribers during this time.

As the SVOD market grows, there is increasing potential for subscription fatigue, and as one of the most recent editions, a large majority of Disney+ users also subscribe to other services. However, with many signing up because it ‘added something new’ to their existing subscriptions, and with 4% of the online population already claiming it is a service they couldn’t live without – along with a competitive subscription fee of £5.99 – Disney+ is a strong contender.

Challenges ahead

As a service with one of the highest potential churn rates it seems that not all users are completely satisfied and keeping hold of subscribers who signed up over lockdown may be a challenge for Disney+ as time goes on. 27% of those who claimed they are likely to cancel their subscription in the next 6 months said they would do so because they have watched everything that interests them – a figure that is higher for Disney+ than for most other SVOD services.

To counter this content wear-out effect, Disney+ will be relying on new exclusives such as Hamilton and Black is King to encourage viewers to stay. Along with other SVOD services, it is also playing a role in helping new titles to reach mass audiences – premiering the Artemis Fowl movie when it was unable to be shown in cinemas earlier this year due to Covid-19. UK viewers who wish to watch the live action remake of Mulan also have the option to purchase it through Disney+ for £20, before the it becomes available to all subscribers with no extra fee in December (see our previous mailer for more info on the PVOD model).

If its first six months are anything to go by, the future is looking positive for Disney+. The service has differentiated itself from a growing market of competing services and built an impressive subscriber base – recently reaching 60.5 million worldwide. As we enter winter and continue to experience changes to our daily lives, we’ll be looking to the next wave of our ScreenThink tracker to see the effects on Disney+ and other services.