When Disney launched its subscription video on demand (SVOD) mobile app Disney+ in November 2019, it generated nearly $100 million in gross revenue during its first two months alone. The platform's continued success has now propelled it past $1.5 billion in consumer spending on mobile, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data.
Disney+ passed $1 billion in worldwide gross revenue in April 2021, and the SVOD platform saw its most mobile spending in a single month ever in July when the app's revenue was 204 percent above the amount generated during its launch month. The boom in consumer spending was likely precipitated by the launch of tentpole content such as Black Widow along with the series finale of Loki.
Since its launch in 2019, Disney+ has entered a number of new markets, which has helped its mobile app reach the $1.5 billion milestone. As the platform continues to roll out new content and expand its availability, spending will likely continue to accelerate.
Disney+'s mobile app has now reached an estimated 246.7 million installs since its debut and adoption continues to climb year-over-year. In H1 2021, the app saw more than 64 million installs, up 28 percent Y/Y from nearly 50 million in the year-ago period.
The app saw its greatest total of first-time installs in a single month during November 2020 when it hit 24.5 million globally. The surge in adoption that month was driven by the service rolling out to South American markets such as Brazil and Argentina.
Moviegoers' habits have obviously changed since early 2020, and studios such as Disney adapted their marketing strategies accordingly. This was particularly pronounced in the promotion of the feature film Mulan. According to Sensor Tower's Pathmatics platform, which tracks digital ad spend, Mulan's U.S. marketing began in Q1 2020 with a traditional campaign driving ticket purchases for in-person viewings, before shifting over to ads promoting digital versions of the movie.
Conversely, about 93 percent of Disney's U.S. campaign spend for the streaming series The Mandalorian has been invested in desktop video platforms, predominantly YouTube. The company spent approximately $31.8 million on digital promotion for the show in 2020, and has spent about $8.6 million year-to-date ahead of the winter release of its third season.
In the first seven months of 2021, Disney has spent a little more than $238 million on digital advertising for Disney+, down 39 percent from the same time period in 2020. However, this doesn't mean that the company isn't still leaning heavily on digital advertising in order to reach consumers at home—approximately 89 percent of the marketing spend on movie releases such as Raya and the Last Dragon, Soul, and Luca went to desktop video ads. Rather, Disney appears to be experimenting with different delivery platforms, decreasing its spend on Facebook from 57 percent in 2020 to 27 percent year to date and increasing its spend on Instagram from 4 percent to 13 percent.
Disney+'s performance on mobile is admittedly only part of the picture in terms of the service's overall revenue and adoption. That said, its outsized success also proves how key mobile continues to be for Disney, as well as other companies offering SVOD services, even as some consumer habits begin to normalize with parts of the world reopening amid the ongoing pandemic.