The heat keeps getting turned up on traditional entertainment. Just a week after AT&T's (T 0.57%) WarnerMedia threw shade on the global box office when it said all of its 2021 movies will debut on HBO Max simultaneous with a theatrical release, Disney (DIS 0.16%) said its streaming services had swelled to 137 million subscribers as of Dec. 2. Of those, 86.8 million subscribed to Disney+, and it has disruption of its own planned.
Disney's latest update is significant. Just a month prior at the end of October, it said its streaming services had 120 million subscribers, including 73.7 million for Disney+. Clearly, with another 17 million additions in a month, TV streaming has plenty of steam behind it, and Mickey and company aren't planning on slowing down.
During its annual investor day, the company said it will launch 10 new Marvel and 10 new Star Wars series on Disney+ in the next few years. In total, there will be some 50 new programming titles headed to the flagship TV app as the company aims for weekly episodic entertainment to keep consumers coming back. Also, similar to its strategy with the live-action version of Mulan, the movie Raya and the Last Dragon will also debut simultaneously on Disney+ and in theaters in March 2021.
CEO Bob Chapek and his team emphasized the company's goal is to be flexible with how productions get released, which will reflect consumer demand. At the moment, that doesn't bode well for the theater industry, although Disney's announcement isn't quite the shot across the bow for the global box office like WarnerMedia's was.
Still, the future favors streaming over the silver screen. Disney had a slew of other announcements, including that it will be launching in Eastern Europe, South Korea, and Hong Kong in the next year. And the Star general entertainment service for outside the U.S. will launch within Disney+ (and thus increase the monthly price by a couple of bucks) and be offered as a stand-alone service as Star+ in Latin America in June 2021 and include live sports events like soccer.
Put simply, the world of entertainment is changing rapidly, and Disney still looks like the premier media empire to beat.