Fortune poll: Disney+ is eating into Netflix’s user base

December 18, 2019, 10:00 AM UTC

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One month ago, tech juggernaut Apple and entertainment conglomerate Disney launched their streaming services in what will likely be a multi-year struggle for your eyeballs. It didn’t take long for Disney to claim ground in the streaming wars: Since launch, its The Mandalorian has become a streaming hit, with that precious little green force-sensitive Baby Yoda stealing every scene.

But is Netflix seriously threatened? Now that we’re a month in, it’s time to pull the data and see how well Apple TV+ and Disney+ are actually doing. Fortune-SurveyMonkey set out to get the answers by polling more than 1,200 Americans* on whether they’ve signed up to the new platforms. In October, we conducted a streaming poll that predicted that Disney+ would be the strongest new competitor to come out of the gate. Now, we’ll contrast where everyone stood before launch against where they stand after launch.

The big numbers you should know:


  • … of Netflix users could have a Disney+ account by early next year. 20% of Netflix users say they’ve already subscribed to Disney+, and another 19% are likely to subscribe in the next month.


  • … of Americans say they’ve either subscribed to Disney+ (14%) or plan to subscribe in the next month (15%). That measures up with the 28% who said in October they were likely to subscribe to Disney+ in our pre-launch poll.


  • … of Americans say they’ve either subscribed to Apple TV+ (6%) or plan to subscribe in the next month (12%). That’s up from the 14% who said they were likely subscribe to Apple TV+ in our pre-launch poll.


  • … of millennials say they’ve subscribed to Disney+, compared to 10% of Gen Xers and 6% of baby boomers.

Big picture takeaway:

Just one month after launch, Disney+ is clearly the new streaming service that is the biggest threat to Netflix. But while some onlookers may be surprised by Disney+ early streaming success (hitting 10 million subscribers on the first day), its early strength is right in line with what Fortune Analytics’s data found in October. (Apple TV+ beat our pre-launch expectations the most.)

Disney+ shouldn’t celebrate too soon, though. “Whoever has the most desired content will be the winner in this war, but we’re not going to have one winner; we may even have four or five winners,” said Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks, to Fortune. Early results show Disney+ is doing well on this front, she says, but its long-term challenge is keeping these new subscribers from getting bored and moving on.

Three deeper takeaways:

1. Disney+ is an early success

With the wealth of content at Disney’s disposal, CEO Bob Iger could have entered this space years ago. Instead, he bided his time while acquiring big names like Lucasfilm (Star Wars) and 20th Century Fox, and making multiple deals to increase Disney’s ownership in Hulu—which is included in the Disney+ bundle.

So when Disney got into the streaming business this fall, they came out swinging. The patience is clearing paying off: Almost 1 in 3 Americans say they’ve already subscribed or plan to subscribe to Disney+.

The Apple TV+ launch, spearheaded by the big-budget TV series The Morning Show, was overshadowed by the Disney+ launch. In fact, by a 7 to 1 ratio, “Disney+” got more searches on Google than “Apple TV+” last month. However, Apple TV+ actually outperformed Fortune Analytics’ expectations, with much of its success coming out of holiday shoppers taking advantage of their free year of Apple TV+ after buying select Apple products. The challenge for Apple: converting these people to paying subscribers once those trials end.

2. Netflix is already threatened by Disney+

Among Netflix users, 20% already subscribe to Disney+, with another 19% saying they’re likely to in the next month. While it isn’t a good sign for the company that a huge chunk of its subscribers are sampling Disney+, it doesn’t necessarily spell doom either, as long as these subscribers are willing to pay for both.

But here is one troubling number for Netflix: Among Disney+ subscribers, 5% are folks who cancelled Netflix over the past two months for the new platform.

On paper, Hulu has lost the most ground to Disney, with 28% of its users having already subscribed to Disney+. But many of these Hulu users are just upgrading to the $12.99 Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle. Its real challenge will not come until the April launch of NBC’s Peacock, which will have an ad-supported model and heavy focus on current TV shows similar to Hulu’s.

Amazon Prime Video has nearly the same percentage of users signing up for Disney+ as Netflix. However, it doesn’t have the same risk of users leaving, given streaming is a secondary perk to Amazon Prime members.

3. Disney+ is hot with millennials

Whether it’s the nostalgic throwbacks or just Baby Yoda, Disney is winning the hearts of millennials.

This group alone is why Disney+ beat expectations: In total, 46% of millennials say they’ve already subscribed to Disney+ or are likely to within the next month. That compares to the 24% who told Fortune-SurveyMonkey in October they were likely to subscribe.

One interesting number:


  • … of Disney+ subscribers say they’re satisfied with the new streaming service, including 59% who are very satisfied. Meanwhile, 86% of Apple TV+ subscribers say they’re satisfied.

*Methodology: The Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll was conducted among a national sample of 1,233 adults in the U.S. between November 26-28. This survey’s modeled error estimate is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.