Media giant Walt Disney has unveiled ambitious global plans to expand its streaming services, which have attracted impressive new subscriber numbers at the same time as its more traditional businesses have suffered because of COVID-19.

The company announced at its 2020 Investor Day last week that the number of subscribers to Disney+ had increased to nearly 87 million as of 2nd December and that it expects the service to attract between 230 million and 260 million by 2024, the Financial Times reported.

Disney+ is a relative newcomer to the fiercely competitive streaming market and it does not produce anything like as much original content as its rival Netflix.

Therefore, and partly in return for raising its subscription price in the US, Disney said it plans to double its annual content investment to about $15bn by 2024, by when its streaming business is expected to make a profit.

Executive chairman Bob Iger said Disney would focus on quality over quantity, but even so the company has lined up a large slate of new TV programming, including ten from the Marvel franchise, about ten Star Wars series, Pixar animations and 15 movies, which will be released over the next few years.

Disney had already confirmed that it would expand Star, the Asia pay-TV network it bought from Rupert Murdoch, as a more adult-focused streaming service, and the company clearly sees opportunities in the region.

Disney+ Hotstar, for example – Star India’s video-streaming service – increased its subscriber base to more than 26 million as of 2nd December, exchange4media reported.

That meant its paid subscriber base jumped by 7.5 million over just a couple of months, making the Indian business account for almost a third of all of global subscribers to Disney+.

“With a rapidly growing middle class, India is a promising market opportunity and we are uniquely positioned to succeed in the country due to our existing presence with Star TV and Hotstar," said Rebecca Campbell of Disney International Operations.

She added that Disney+ Hotstar currently offers content in seven Indian languages and will add around 17,000 hours of original local programming every year.

“This strategy is our template for other South Asian markets that are also driven by local content and mobile consumption, with Indonesia being the first market,” she said.

Sourced from Financial Times, exchange4media