In April 2022, conservative critics called on their followers to stop watching Disney movies, stop visiting Disney World, and cancel their Disney+ subscriptions in response to the The Walt Disney Co.’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
On April 6, an evidence-free rumor started circulating on social media that touted the alleged success of this campaign, claiming that Disney had lost 350,000 subscribers over the previous five days:
While it was oft-repeated across social media, no evidence at all was provided to support this claim. None of the social media posts we encountered linked to news reports, company emails, or any other documentation to show that 350,000 people had canceled their Disney+ subscriptions.
Streaming networks such as Disney+ don’t typically provide a running tally of their total subscribers. In other words, the information that would be needed to support this claim simply isn’t publicly available.
The last time the company enumerated the number of subscribers on Disney+ was in a first quarter 2022 earnings release in February 2022. At the time, Disney announced that they had added 11.8 million subscribers to the service, for a total of 129.8 million subscribers.
Disney+ added 11.8 million new subscribers last quarter to reach 129.8 million subscribers, Disney announced as part of its Q1 2022 earnings release, and said it’s still on track to reach 230 to 260 million subscribers by 2024. The company’s quarter beat projections after only adding 2 million subscribers in the previous quarter.
Disney broke down the streaming service’s global subscriber count by domestic and international categories. Disney+ has 42.9 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada and has 41.1 million internationally. It also has 45.9 million Disney+ Hotstar subscribers, which is a collaborative service offering between Disney and Star India’s existing streaming service.
While Disney will likely update these numbers at some point during the second quarter, they simply aren’t available at the moment. It’s worth noting that 350,000 subscribers only represents about .2% of Disney’s total subscribers. We reached out to Disney for comment on this rumor, and will update this article if more information becomes available.
Conflicting Claims Are a Red Flag
While the most popular variant of the claim in April 2022 was that 350,000 people had canceled their Disney+ subscriptions, this wasn’t the only figure offered on social media. Some claimed that 200,000 people had canceled their subscriptions over a week, while others claimed that a half million people canceled in one day.
One reason these claims vary from one person to the next is that they aren’t based on actual evidence. When you aren’t bound by evidence and make up “facts” out of thin air, you can, quite literally, claim anything you want.
“Cancel Your Disney Vacation And Go To Dollywood Instead.” The Federalist, 8 Apr. 2022, https://thefederalist.com/2022/04/08/cancel-your-disney-vacation-and-go-to-dollywood-instead/.
“Disney+ Outshines Netflix with 11.8M New Subscribers in Q1 and Strong Forecast.” TechCrunch, https://social.techcrunch.com/2022/02/10/disney-outshines-netflix-with-11-8m-new-subscribers-in-q1-strong-forecast/. Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.
“‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Passes in Florida, Goes to Governor.” AP NEWS, 8 Mar. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/dont-say-gay-bill-passes-florida-legislature-b173917e985833963e45a8d0464a4399.
Johnson, Ted. “Disney Takes Heat Over Public Stance On Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law, But NBCUniversal And Other Studios Keep Away The Fray.” Deadline, 6 Apr. 2022, https://deadline.com/2022/04/disney-florida-dont-say-gay-backlash-impact-hollywood-studios-1234994109/.