Disney Plus continues its global expansion this week. Variety Reports the service is now online in Greece, Turkey, Poland and a number of other Central European countries as part of a wider rollout over the past two weeks, including 42 new countries and 11 territories in Europe, Africa and Western Asia. You can view the full list and local prices here†
For viewers in those countries, that means a slew of Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney content coming your way. (Our recommendation? Get to Ms. Marvel ASAP…and maybe wait for Moon Knight.) For Disney, it’s another key way to grow its streaming service. Disney Plus has about 87.6 million subscribers – plus another 50.1 million who subscribe to Disney Plus Hotstar in India, which is similar, but not quite the same – and has grown as Netflix reported a slightly shrinking user base in recent months.
Netflix still sets the bar for global streaming scale. The company says it’s available in more than 190 countries, but Disney is quickly catching up. From the outset, Disney said it was intended to be a global service for Disney Plus, and it certainly has a library of universally compelling content to make it work.
However, as Disney continues its relentless global march, it will run into many of the same problems Netflix faces. Creating content is expensive and difficult; creating content that works in every country on the planet is even more. Disney has of course done this many times, most recently with Lightyear, which has been banned by a handful of countries before it was even released.
It’s also possible that many people simply don’t want to pay for multiple streaming services, especially in less affluent parts of the world, meaning Netflix and Disney Plus are likely to have even more direct competition in new and developing markets.
That competition for subscription dollars, by the way, is one of the reasons both companies are working on ad-supported plans to keep the price as low as possible. Disney has said it plans to launch an ad-supported version of Disney Plus in the US this year and roll it out elsewhere in 2023.
But the most interesting question facing Disney is this: how many potential streaming subscribers are there, really? Not everyone with an internet connection is going to pay for a dedicated TV and movie service, not now and possibly never. So far, Netflix has put the global market at about 220 million. Disney has a bunch of Avengers and Obi-Wan Kenobi helping it figure out how much higher that number can really go.