It's been little more than a year since Disney (NYSE:DIS) debuted its flagship streaming video service, Disney+. Viewer growth has accelerated so quickly that the House of Mouse achieved its 2024 subscriber goals before the end of 2020. As impressive as its results have been thus far, Disney+ is just getting started.
On this episode of Fool Live that was recorded on Dec. 11, 2020, Fool.com contributor Danny Vena discusses why Disney+ has plenty of growth ahead.
Danny Vena: When Disney had its Investor Day back in April of last year, management's initial forecast was that Disney+ streaming service would have between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by 2024. Now that's five years into the future, and the service didn't even debut until November. Now here we are less than a year later, and Disney announced at it's Investor Day yesterday that it had surpassed 86 million. It is gaining ground just rapidly. I think one of the things that we're going to see is, and I agree with Brian, I don't think it's going to be a Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) killer, I think they target different demographics. Netflix tries to be something for everyone. Right now, Disney is primarily family oriented. I think we're going to see that shift a little bit, I think you're going to see Disney expand its market. But I think there's going to be a running battle from here on for who is going to be the market streaming leader.
Well, we've already talked a little bit about the fact that Disney's subscribers to Disney+ have far exceeded their wildest expectations. Now, a lot of that was fueled by the pandemic. But one of the things that I think you're going to see in the future is, for the majority of subscribers, once you sign up for a service like Netflix or like Disney+, there's very little reason to cancel it, in many cases. Now, there are going to be people that are going to say, I don't watch it that much, I don't use it often enough. But for the majority of subscribers, it's going to stick around.
Disney, because of the pandemic, got a massive acceleration of the number of people that they were planning on having as subscribers, which they announced in their Investor Day yesterday. They've got nearly to the top end of the range of what they expected to have after a four full plus years, and they did that in just under a year. About 87 million subscribers right now.
Going forward, they're looking at having somewhere between 230 and 260 million. Now to give that context, on Netflix right now, has a 195 million and will continue to grow. They've been growing their subscribers fairly consistently for years, so I think several years from now, Disney is actually going to be approaching, the number of subscribers that Netflix has, if it's able to meet its forecast.
Now, Disney has decided that they're going to lean in to content. They announced the reorganization earlier this year where they were going to become a streaming-focused company. Now, Disney has always been about creating content. They're going to not only create content, they're going to create more of it. One of the metrics that I read in an article was that about 80 percent of the content that Disney produces in years to come is going to go directly to streaming.
Now, you're still going to have the big blockbusters that are going to go to theaters once the theaters open back up. But it's leaning into all of its major brands. There's going to be a number of new Star Wars, not only movies, but series that are going to be directly to streaming. Two series that are going to be spinoffs from The Mandalorian, which I think is going to make some folks really happy. The most highly rated show on Disney+ right now. They have given us some more insight into what's going to happen with the Marvel series that are coming. There's a Marvel series called Loki, there's a Marvel series about the Black Widow and Vision.
Not only are they doing these series that they had already announced, but they've announced a host of additional series that will be coming out. Some of the things that I saw that struck my interest, they here we're going to have a She-Hulk series that's going to appear on Disney+. There are so many new things that they came out with. Pixar's going to come out with a bunch of different series.
Now, this is what I was talking about earlier that I wanted to get back to. For countries outside of the United States, rather than taking Hulu and expanding Hulu, they're going to use the Star brand, which actually is already has a very large following in India and a number of other countries around the globe, so they're going to lean into that Star brand as well, and that's going to become the de facto replacement for Hulu in the rest of the countries around the globe, which means Disney is not at any risk of losing the family friendly reputation that it has developed over the years because it's going to use this other, not Disney, brand for the adult content.
I remember reading over the last week, there had been a number of analysts who we're talking about an 18+ Disney service, but they weren't sure what that was going to look like. I'm pretty sure now, from what I have been reading that that's going to be the Star brand. It's going to be for R rated and mature audience type programming.
This is really exciting news for Disney. They have said they're going to spend a lot more money. I don't have the figures in front of me next, but from what I read, I think $8 billion and $9 billion comes to mind on content to load into, not only in all of its streaming services.
But then also, you have the movies that are going to first go to the theaters, and then they're going to work their way down into the Disney streaming services. Rather than the billion-dollars it was originally planning on spending on content, Disney is now saying that in the coming years that number is going to grow to between $8 billion and $9 billion. That's a really huge investment by Disney. They are definitely have come to the conclusion that streaming is the future, and they are not going to be left behind.