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Disney signs 10m despite tech issues

New streaming service Disney+ amassed more than 10 million subscribers on the first day of its launch in the US, Canada and Netherlands, despite early technical problems.

Bob Iger

Disney+ launched on Tuesday in the three territories but many users reported they had trouble either finding the service, downloading it or getting it to work at all.

The technical issues came as millions of people tried to access the new service, even though Disney had spent US$2.58bn to buy a majority share in BamTech, a streaming service it hoped would help the company to keep up with the demands of new subscribers.

But the technology apparently led to many disgruntled subscribers taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations. Disney downplayed the issues, saying the high rate of sign-up was a surprise even to the Mouse House.

“The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations. While we are pleased by this incredible response, we are aware of the current user issues and are working to swiftly resolve them. We appreciate your patience,” said a Disney representative.

Disney+ is set to grow its subscriber numbers even more as it continues its global roll-out and will launch in Australia and New Zealand on November 19. It will roll out in Western Europe next March.

The service is priced at US$6.99 per month or US$69.99 per year. New customers are offered a free seven-day trial and it is not yet known how many subscribers will remain after that period. Verizon customers in the US can also receive a year’s subscription to the service for a year, which will also bolster the streamer’s numbers.

The rate of sign-up matches projections from analysts that Disney+ will have the highest number of subscriptions of the major SVoD players between now and 2025. Research from the UK’s Digital TV Research estimated it will reach 101 million.

One analyst described the rate of sign-up in Disney+’s first day as “jaw-dropping.”

Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told the Financial Times the early subscriber numbers showed Disney+ could be a very real competitor to Netflix.

“This speaks to the one-two punch of success that [Disney CEO Bob] Iger and Disney have coming out of the gate,” he said

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