“The Mandalorian’s” Massive Popularity and Budget
Starting with the numbers, “The Mandalorian” has helped Disney Plus create significant viewership on the platform, but that certainly came at a hefty cost. In fact, the first season of the show alone cost an impressive $120 million to create with an average budget per episode coming in at around $15 million. The expensive budget, however, has come with incredible results.
At the time of its weekly release, The Mandalorian was by far the most in-demand show in the US across all streaming platforms, both in terms of all shows streamed and in original content streamed. It became more than 93.5 times more in demand than the average title in the United States. This was determined through demand expressions, which measures desire, engagement, and viewership weighted by importance. Under this metric, “The Mandalorian” garnered over 100 million demand expressions. The show played a crucial role in how Disney Plus has done up to this point in terms of subscriptions.
Disney Plus’s Positive Trends
Since its inception in 2019, Disney Plus has seen a strong upward trend in subscriber numbers and revenue. Last year, Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international revenue steadily improved, capping off at $9.3 billion, with the specific market growing in revenue every quarter that year. In the first quarter, Disney generated only $0.9 billion. Compared to the fourth quarter in the same year, which generated $3.4 billion, revenues had moved in a very positive direction for the young streaming platform. However, more impressively than that, of the two quarters reported so far in 2020, Disney’s revenue for this specific market grew larger. In the first quarter of 2020, Disney earned $4 billion in revenue, with this number growing slightly larger in the second quarter at around $4.1 billion. If these numbers are to keep pace, Disney will nearly double their direct-to-consumer and international revenue by the end of the year.
In a similar vein, Disney Plus’s subscribers have grown steadily as well. In December of 2019, Disney Plus had 26.5 million subscribers, which was up considerably from the streaming platform’s debut, but still a slow build. As of early August of 2020, that number has gone up significantly due to a variety of factors, such as the increase of people staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the addition of the musical, “Hamilton,” to the programs available, and the releases of two Disney original features, “Onward” and “Mulan.” These factors, in combination with the general popularity of the streaming platform have ballooned Disney Plus subscriptions up to over 60 million. This number has already surpassed expectations for the platform, especially with the next season of “The Mandalorian,” and the many different Marvel series still planned for release in the future. In fact, Disney executives had projected that Disney Plus would be between 60 and 90 million subscribers by 2024. For it to have already surpassed the low-end expectations for four years in the future, it’s clear that Disney Plus is connecting with a lot of consumers at a higher level than initially predicted.
Disney Plus has done a lot already to entice viewers. The entire Disney catalog of past content being made available was a great initial selling point. The addition of new features and other works of media has done a great job of building up an even larger base. However, it cannot be understated how massive the impact of their most popular original show is. Given that the subscriber base is significantly larger than when the first season premiered, it is clear that there should be an equally large (if not larger) base excitedly waiting to see more of the universe that Jon Favreau and his team have lovingly created.
With so much new content still on the horizon, and certainly many more Baby Yoda moments as well, Disney Plus is set up to be a true competitor to the streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. In fact, with the ambitious nature of Disney as a company, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Disney Plus possibly surpass them in the semi-near future.