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If Consumers Could Only Subscribe to Netflix or Disney+, Here's Who Would Win Out

By Danny Vena - Nov 27, 2019 at 1:22PM

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A recent survey tells an interesting tale about the future of streaming video.

Streaming movies and television shows have hit the mainstream over the past decade. While Netflix ( NFLX -2.33% ) was once the only game in town, viewers now have more choices than ever before. Rounding out the most frequently cited top three are Amazon's Prime Video and Disney ( DIS -0.67% )-controlled Hulu.

However, Disney recently debuted Disney+, and Apple ( AAPL -1.17% ) Apple TV+. Launches are upcoming for AT&T's HBO Max, and Peacock from Comcast's NBCUniversal in 2020. All have threatened to disrupt an already fractured landscape, as they add to a dizzying array of viewing options. As consumers become overloaded with choices, companies with streaming services have to be wondering which has the best chance of making the final cut.

A recent survey reveals some surprising results about what investors in these companies might expect.

A woman wears headphones and eats popcorn while watching streaming video on a laptop in a dark room.

Image source: Getty Images.

The winner is...

I don't want to bury the lede, so let's get right to it. A study commissioned by Express VPN surveyed 1,500 adult Disney+ subscribers, and a whopping 64% said they would choose Disney+ over Netflix if forced to choose between the two. That's a telling metric for Disney+, which went live less than two weeks ago. The service attracted 10 million subscribers on its first day, driving its share price to record highs.

There were other gems in the survey. About 49% of respondents said Disney+ has the best streaming content, while only 32% would say the same about Netflix. Things really drop off after that, with no other provider even breaking into the double digits. Hulu came in at 9%, Prime Video at 6%, and Alphabet's YouTube TV at 2%. The results aren't too surprising considering Disney has had decades to amass a treasure trove of fan-favorite content.

There's more. Of those surveyed, 88% think Disney+ is living up to the hype, while 61% say they haven't opened another streaming service since Disney+ debuted. There's also a nostalgia factor at play. Over half of parents surveyed (54%) say they're more excited about Disney+ than their children are, and 80% say nostalgia factored into their decision to subscribe.

There's another little tidbit that bodes well for the future of Disney+. Of those surveyed, 85% said they would be willing to pay as much $8 to $10 a month for a subscription, significantly higher than the current $6.99 per month price tag.

It's important to remember that all of the people that responded to this survey are current Disney+ customers, and many are still on cloud nine from the recent launch. Their rather enthusiastic responses may come back down to earth after some time has passed.

The biggest loser...

The biggest potential losers according to the survey? When asked how likely they were to cancel a specific streaming service in the next six months, Apple TV+ was the biggest loser, with 61% of respondents saying they were "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to ditch the nascent platform. Again, that's not too surprising, considering the limited selection and tepid reviews its shows have received.

Others that were likely to be canceled include AT&T's HBO Now with 58%, and YouTube TV with 54%. The favored incumbents were among the least likely to get the ax, including Netflix (35%), Prime Video (38%), and Hulu (41%). By comparison, only 34% said they planned to cancel Disney+.

The Disney+ Kids landing page on the app, showing children's programming choices including Frozen

Image source: Disney.

It wasn't all good news

Some of the results of the survey pointed to challenges ahead for Disney. Of those surveyed, 44% said they were concerned about recent reports of Disney+ accounts being hacked.

Then there were the launch-day issues caused by hordes of Disney's most ardent fans overwhelming its servers. Among survey respondents, 12% said they weren't initially able to log in to their Disney+ accounts, 13% said they were unable to reach customer service during the fiasco, and 8% said their accounts had already been hacked.

Disney said there was no evidence of a security breach on its end, so the most likely culprit is the common practice of many consumers who use the same username and/or password across multiple accounts. Once hackers have that information, it's open season on any new accounts -- like those on Disney+.

"There can be only one!"

While this quote from the '80s fan-favorite The Highlander made for great cinema, the truth is rather more nuanced.

The average U.S. consumer subscribes to three streaming services, according to Deloitte's 13th annual Digital Media Trends survey. This suggests that in order to be successful, a streaming platform only needs to position itself as one of the must-have services.

It's also important to remember that it wasn't that long ago that consumers only had one streaming service -- if they had any at all. Viewers with a big appetite for quality content may end up having more than three streaming services, while others will settle on a few favorites. However, with a limited amount of consumer discretionary income, streaming services will be angling to be among the top choices.

Right now, it looks like Disney+ is on track to be one of them.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Netflix, Inc. Stock Quote
Netflix, Inc.
$602.13 (-2.33%) $-14.34
The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$146.22 (-0.67%) $0.98
Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$161.84 (-1.17%) $-1.92

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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