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Disney+ subscribers may be magical, but analyst says new survey could be lyin' king

Matthew McNulty

The Mouse House looks like it could soon become a Mouse  Mega-Mansion on the heels of a new survey that projects Disney+, the new streaming service offering the best of Disney and more, could wildly exceed initial subscriber expectations. But one streaming expert says to proceed with caution.

A new survey from UBS, doubles the company’s initial subscription projections as the entertainment giant looks to take on streaming king Netflix. Twenty-four percent of Americans say they’re “extremely likely” to subscribe to the service when it launches in November. That would translate to 30.2 million U.S households. But another 19% said they’re “somewhat likely” to subscribe, which, if they did sign on would add another 24.2 million U.S. homes racking up more than 54 million subscriptions. Disney execs have projected Disney+ will pull in up to 30 million subscribers by the end of 2024.

“In all of these surveys, any word that ends in “ly” you should ignore," declares longtime streaming expert and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, Dan Rayburn, "What does “extremely likely” mean? Will those people definitely be ordering the service? What is the methodology in the survey? It’s garbage.”

Still, the matchup between Disney+ and Netflix is shaping up to be the heavyweight fight of the entertainment world.  Netflix still holds the title when it comes to streaming service market dominance, with 60 million U.S. subscribers, -- even after dropping domestic customers for the first time during this year’s second quarter. Of note, Hulu -- which is now controlled by Disney -- has 24 million U.S. customers with its live television package and streaming content. The Hulu / Disney+ pairing could be quite a tag team match for Netflix in the days ahead.

But Rayburn warns that this fight may be more hype than substance. “Disney and Netflix are not competitors. Disney has family-oriented content. They are offering content safe for kids, and adults that like ‘Star Wars’ and superhero movies. They aren’t going to create the next ‘Orange Is the New Black,’” Rayburn told Fox Business on Thursday.

“Disney will be targeting very different people in the (streaming service) market,” he added. “One service doesn’t replace another, it compliments it.”

Even with the global reach and marketing power of The Walt Disney Company, Rayburn said it’s still a tall order for Disney to catch Netflix in terms of subscribers.

“Netflix has such a size and scale, its product always works,” Rayburn said. “It will take a long time for Disney to catch up to that.”

Disney+ debuts on Nov. 12, with subscription costs of $6.99 a month or $69.99 for the entire year, while also offering a $12.99 a month bundle package which will include both Hulu and ESPN+.

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