Disney+ is running more smoothly, but not Netflix-level smoothly

VIDEO: REUTERS
Pedro Pascal plays the title character in the new Disney+ show, The Mandalorian.
Pedro Pascal plays the title character in the new Disney+ show, The Mandalorian.PHOTO: FRANCOIS DUHAMEL/LUCASFILM

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Walt Disney rallied on Wednesday (Nov 13) after its new video-streaming platform attracted 10 million customers, sprinting to a milestone that the company called "remarkable."

The service, Disney+, was just made available Tuesday in the US and Canada, though the company had been offering it earlier in the Netherlands as a test.

"With 10 million subscribers on its Disney+ service in the first full day of availability, Disney should silence naysayers who expressed reservations about a pivot to streaming," said Geetha Ranganathan, a media analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

"It took HBO Now about four years to reach about 10 million streaming subscribers."

Disney shares reversed losses after the company announced the subscriber figure, with the stock climbing as much as 4.1 per cent on Wednesday.

Netflix shares fell by 1.9 per cent as that company's investors assess how big a threat Disney+ will be.

Disney also made headway in fixing glitches. Complaints about accessing and watching Disney+ were down sharply in the second day of the US launch, a sign the company is finding its footing.

The independent complaint tracker Downdetector was registering about 200 to 500 issues with the service every 15 minutes, a marked decrease from Tuesday morning New York time, when the site saw as many as 8,000 complaints.

Most users who lodged complaints said they were having trouble logging into the site for the first time or getting error messages when they tried to watch a movie or TV show.

 
 

The complaint levels on Wednesday were still well ahead of those for rival services such as Netflix, a company that has had years to get its technology right. Disney apologised for the issues and said it was working hard to fix them.

Pixar, Marvel Disney+ is an ambitious attempt to compete with Netflix and other online rivals. The US$7-a-month (S$9) service includes movies and TV shows from most of the company's top brands, including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Disney is spending US$1 billion in the first year alone on original programming.

The Burbank, California-based company said that in the future it would only be updating subscriber numbers during quarterly investor conference calls.

A marketing agreement with Verizon Communications gave as many as 19 million of that company's phone and internet customers one year of the service free.

An independent tracking firm, Apptopia, had estimated that Disney+ was downloaded 3.2 million times in 24 hours on Apple and Android mobile devices. Many more could have gotten the service through Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and other devices.

Users spent 1.3 million hours watching it, Apptopia said, more than Amazon.com's Prime Video, but far less than the six million hours watched on Netflix.