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Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Photo by Bloomberg.

Disney’s Streaming Slowdown Shows Pitfalls Ahead

Photo: Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Photo by Bloomberg.

The streaming wars are starting to get interesting. Today, Disney reported a dramatic slowdown in subscriber growth at its Disney+ service—it added just 2 million subscribers in the September quarter, the weakest growth since the service’s launch two years ago. More strikingly, Disney executives indicated that Disney+ won’t return to meaningful growth until the second half of its 2022 fiscal year, as it expands into new markets and gets more new movies and TV shows onto the service.

Growth from new markets is a short-lived phenomenon, of course, so what Disney really needs is new shows that can attract subscribers. The question is whether even that will be enough. Disney+ is facing a much more crowded streaming market now than when it launched, as most major entertainment companies launched their streaming offerings in the past 18 months. Netflix’s growth has also slowed. Notably, Disney+’s growth in the U.S. has been tepid all year, as we have reported, with the service only showing an uptick in subscribers in earlier quarters thanks to India.

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