Disney+ Leads Us In Q4 2019 App Downloads: Will Popularity Last?
Disney CEO Bob Iger and Star Wars creator George Lucas. Credit: littlelostrobot (via Wikimedia Commons)

Data from SensorTower showed Disney+ led the U.S. in app downloads in the final quarter of 2019. Will the Mouse House’s streaming popularity hold?

Well, there are cases to be made on both sides of the argument. But SensorTower’s annual report had Disney+ as the No. 1 story of the year, which certainly bodes well.

Let’s examine how this could go either way, albeit with plenty of unknown in this unprecedented Streaming Wars era.

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Back catalog reliance vs. original content programming

The Disney+ app download numbers are astounding. Q4 of the last fiscal year began on October 1 and ran through December 31. Disney+ didn’t launch until November 12, yet still racked up 30 million app downloads.

This also led to $50 million in revenue in the first 30 days of its existence. All that said, much of the initial surge can be attributed to novelty and nostalgia.

Those two concepts seem at odds with each other. Not in the case of Disney+, who owns preexisting IPs such as Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar. That’s in addition to Disney’s own extensive catalog of animated content.

Disney+ has to compete with many other giants in the Streaming Wars. Their flagship original series, Star Wars’ The Mandalorian, was a smash hit. Check out their 2020 content budget compared to others, though:

Competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even newcomer Apple TV+ are pouring far more resources into original content. Relying on back catalog is a very risky business strategy.

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The counter: Well, it’s Disney

On the other hand, the lack of allocated original programming spending speaks to the strength of Disney’s brand — and just how much power their owned IPs wield.

Pixar is a children’s film hit factory. Star Wars is arguably the most valuable IP in entertainment. Marvel just capped off an amazing cinematic saga with Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing movie of all-time.

Just because Disney+ isn’t investing in new content doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Plus, here’s a telling figure from SensorTower: Disney+ beat HBO Now’s best month with their revenue numbers in December.

HBO is split somewhat into HBO Now and HBO Go and is launching HBO Max in 2020. Nevertheless, it just goes to show how Disney+ is already making a massive streaming footprint, and app downloads are a clear indication of that.

As positive word of mouth spreads and innate brand recognition continues to aid Disney’s efforts, their streaming platform should continue to take off.