Over 100 million people worldwide now subscribe to Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) video-streaming service Disney+, according to an official press release today. The platform reached the triple-digit milestone just 16 months after first launching in the U.S. in November 2019.
For context, there were only 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers when Disney held an investor-day event in December. Then when the company reported earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2021 in February, it had grown to 94.9 million subscribers. At this pace, it's currently signing up more than 1 million new subscribers per week.
The extent of the rapid success of Disney+ is shocking to everyone -- including Disney! At launch, management optimistically hoped for up to 90 million subscribers by the year 2024. Keep in mind that this was the company's global goal.
According to some estimates, around 40% -- about 40 million -- of Disney+ subscribers are currently U.S.-based. However, management envisions about 66% of Disney+ subscribers to be based in countries outside the U.S. over the long term.
The stunning growth of Disney+ came at the perfect time for Disney. With theme parks and movie theaters closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company's revenue took a major hit. However, with the subscription service launching just months before the coronavirus lockdowns, it was perfect timing. Disney+ adoption skyrocketed as stuck-at-home consumers looked for something to watch, giving Disney shareholders something to cheer.
Going forward, the success of Disney+ could have lasting consequences for the movie industry. In a first for the company, Disney simultaneously released its new movie Raya and The Last Dragon in theaters and streaming on demand. Some believe this shows the permanent changes the coronavirus brought to the box office.