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Disney+ has been such a big hit that people are jumping to the wrong conclusions about Netflix

Published Dec 19th, 2019 7:16PM EST
Disney Plus vs Netflix
Image: Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock

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You could be forgiven for trying to sift through news headlines from recent days, trying to make sense of the effect Disney+ is having on the once and future king of the streaming hill, Netflix, and coming up miserably short. Uh oh, Disney+ has lured 1 million subscribers away from Netflix. Whew, never mind; Netflix’s stock is rising because Disney+ isn’t turning out to be the fearsome rival everyone thought after all. Wait. Almost 7% of Disney+ users who also subscribe to Netflix are probably going to cancel their Netflix account. Back and forth, back and forth.

With apologies to a certain perished fictional monarch: When you play the game for the streaming throne, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. That’s what the press wants you to believe, at any rate. It’s the kind of story that’s easy to wrap your mind around. Disney+ is winning. So someone, somewhere must be losing.

The latest example is the survey we mentioned above, courtesy of Bank of America, which found that around 7% of Disney+ users who also subscribe to Netflix are likely going to get rid of the latter. This sounds daunting — until you look closer, such as at the fact that the survey only queried 1,000 Americans (compared to the 24 million subscribers Disney+ is believed to have currently). In fact, 65% of respondents to the survey said they thought Disney+ is not a good substitute for Netflix. In other words, that it’s not a question of either-or, but whether you’re fine with one and adding the other.

“Our survey and company reports suggest healthy US adoption of Disney+, but we are encouraged that most early Disney+ users do not see it as a substitute for Netflix,” two BofA analysts write about the research. “While it is possible that there is some incremental churn from Disney+, it looks to be modest and we do not see any broad trend changes in our survey data compared to October.”

Disney has enjoyed an epic run — for several years now, in fact. Just look at some of the highlights of what a pop culture juggernaut it’s become since around 2009, even more so than it already was:

Netflix still has so many baked-in advantages of its own, though, such as a library of more quality movies than Disney+, HBO, and Hulu combined.  In terms of original content, meanwhile, the streamer keeps going from strength to strength, with The Witcher set to debut in the wee hours of Friday morning, capping a string of recent buzzy projects that have debuted on the service in recent weeks (The Irishman, The King, Season 3 of The Crown and Marriage Story, among others). Both Disney+ and Netflix are fantastic, must-haves for streaming consumers, each in their own right, and the success of one doesn’t have to necessarily require a commensurate loss from the other.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.