The impact of COVID-19: Disney+ Sign-ups spike

Rameez Tase
Published in
2 min readMar 23, 2020


As featured in Forbes on March 23, 2020 and by Matthew Ball on March 29, 2020.

Concern over the COVID-19 pandemic began to gain momentum last week in the US. The following week, many schools across the country closed their doors.

The impact across industries has been enormous and the streaming world is no different. While others have estimated viewership could increase by 60% or more, we thought it would be interesting to look at purchase behavior.

What we found: Saturday/Sunday/Monday Sign-ups last week shot up relative to the prior week. Across eight premium entertainment SVOD services, we saw an increase in Sign-ups (which we define as either a new paid subscription or a free trial sign-up) of 64%. Perhaps not surprisingly, Disney+ was the biggest winner, with a 212% increase in U.S. Sign-up volume versus the prior week. A clear impact of the kids staying home?

HBO also had big gains, almost doubling versus the prior week. This could be partially attributed to the season premiere of Westworld (3/15) and series premiere of The Plot Against America (3/16).

Interestingly, Netflix, which many have speculated is nearing saturation, saw a 47% increase in Sign-ups versus the prior week.

CBS All Access and Apple TV+ were the least impacted, with only modest 16% and 10% gains versus the prior week, respectively. CBS All Access had already seen a Sign-up jump in early 2020 due to the NFL Playoffs and series premiere of Star Trek: Picard.

Increase in US Sign-up volume relative to the week prior: Disney+ increased by 212%.
Increase in US Sign-up volume relative to the week prior

This past weekend, Disney+ saw record Sign-ups for 2020:

  • 3.1x the volume compared to the weekend prior.
  • 2.6x the daily average for 2020.
This past weekend, Disney+ saw record Sign-ups for 2020: 2.6 times the daily average of 2020.
Daily US Sign-ups for Disney+

What to watch: We’ll be watching for any spikes in churn rate as life returns to normal. Depth of catalogue and availability of must-have programming will all play a part – but the kids going back to school may be the most important factor of them all.