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Disney+ Continues Hot Streak Overseas, Passes 50M Subscribers

Walt Disney Corp. finally had some good news to report after weeks of pandemic-related battering to its bottom line: its new streaming service Disney+ passed 50 million subscribers worldwide and continues to expand into new territories.

Kevin Mayer, the chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, said in a release that the company “believe(s) this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year.”

That’s probably a safe bet.

Disney+ launched in early November with 10 million signups on its first day, thanks to lots of pre-release special deals for its most ardent fans. By the end of the site’s first quarter of operations, it had 28.6 million subscribers, and began to roll out in overseas.

Since then, attempts to corral the COVID-19 pandemic have battered most Disney operations, closing its theme parks, resorts and cruise ships while shutting down the live sports that fueled its other crown jewel, ESPN.

According to the company, over the past two weeks, Disney+ rolled out in 8 Western European countries and India, where it tied to the Disney-owned Hotstar service.

The India deal is contributing about 8 million of Disney+’s paid subscribers, a huge number, though a tiny portion of the vast mobile-focused addressable market in the world’s second-most populous country.

For comparison, though reaching 50 million subscribers in five months is a prodigious achievement, it still leaves Disney+ with less than one-third as many paying subscribers as Netflix, at a price that’s also about a third that of the SVOD leader. Netflix, of course, has been around more than two decades, and operates in more than 190 countries.

That includes the challenging India market, where both Netflix and Amazon are endeavoring to crack the code for the mobile-dominated business.

Those users also expect both extremely low subscription prices (typically the equivalent of $1 to $2 a month) and lots of India-centric content.