Netflix's reign as king of the streaming wars is under threat, with Disney projected to take its crown in 3 years

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Netflix's reign as king of the streaming wars is under threat, with Disney projected to take its crown in 3 years
Netflix Co-CEO Reed Hastings.Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images
  • Netflix, the long reigning king of streaming, is set to be dethroned by Disney.
  • Disney Plus, combined with Disney-owned ESPN+ and Hulu, collectively put Disney on top.
  • Disney is expected to overtake Netflix in overall subscribers by 2024 at the latest.
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Netflix, the long reigning king of streaming, is set to finally be dethroned, with Disney expected to become the new leader by 2024 at the latest, according to a new report.

Disney Plus already has over 100 million subscribers, and Disney owns two other major streaming services in Hulu and ESPN+. That collective suite of Disney streaming services is expected to surpass 300 million subscribers in the next few years, according to Ampere Analytics data provided to The Guardian, which would put it well above Netflix's projected subscribers across the next few years.

Netflix surpassed 200 million subscribers in late 2020, driven by hits like "Bridgerton" and "The Crown," but subscriber growth for the company has slowed year over year. Those numbers are projected to trail Disney starting in late 2024, according to Ampere's data, with 279 million for Netflix compared to just shy of 300 million for Disney's suite of streaming services.

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Disney came to the streaming game notoriously late, with Disney Plus only launching in November 2019.

The service - which features a library of Disney classics, Marvel films, the "Star Wars" films, and a variety of hit new shows based on Disney properties - pulled in over 100 million subscribers in record time: just 16 months.

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By contrast, Netflix took over a decade to reach 100 million streaming subscribers.

Netflix's reign as king of the streaming wars is under threat, with Disney projected to take its crown in 3 years
"Wandavision" is the most recent original series on Disney Plus to become a major hit.Disney Plus

Notably, these subscriber projections lack the critical context of cultural zeitgeist.

Shows like "The Mandalorian" and "WandaVision" bring subscribers to Disney Plus, just like "Tiger King" and "Making a Murderer" bring subscribers to Netflix. But who could've predicted that any of those would dominate cultural conversations?

Predicting which original projects will hit with viewers and bring in new subscribers is tremendously difficult.

One thing is clear: Disney is doubling down on its effort to produce such projects.

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"The enormous success of Disney Plus, which has surpassed 100 million subscribers, has inspired us to be even more ambitious," Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in early March, "and to significantly increase our investment in the development of high-quality content."

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