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Disney Investors Look Ahead

The Remarkable Success of Disney+

Disney’s (DIS) debut in the streaming market with Disney+ has been far more successful than executives expected. After launching just one year and one month ago, Disney+ now has 86.8 million paying customers, which is where the company originally hoped it would be after five years. People flocked to the streaming service during the COVID-19 pandemic looking for a way to entertain their kids and for nostalgic content during a stressful time.

Disney hopes the roaring growth for its streaming service will continue even after the pandemic subsides. At Disney’s investors day last week, the company’s CEO Bob Chapek shared that Disney now aims to have 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by the end of 2024.

Competing With Netflix

Netflix (NFLX) is still the name to beat in the streaming world. The company has almost 200 million subscribers globally. Netflix also got a boost at the onset of the pandemic, but currently it is not growing as quickly as Disney+.

Analysts expect that Netflix will have about 300 million subscribers by 2024. If Disney+ reaches its four-year goal, it will be much closer to Netflix in size than it is now. Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN+, so if these services continue to be successful, Disney’s combined streaming subscriber numbers could be higher than Netflix’s in four years.

Additionally, Netflix’s business model is almost entirely based on streaming, whereas Disney typically has revenue streams coming from movie theaters and other sources. Some investors feel that Disney will be better able to adapt to changing consumer habits if and when people return to pre-pandemic routines.

Planning for a Return to Movie Theaters

Wall Street has been keeping tabs on the success of Disney+. Disney shares reached all-time highs recently despite the fact that the company’s theme park division has missed out on billions of dollars in revenue due to the pandemic. Disney reported its first quarterly loss since 2001 last month.

At Disney’s investor day, it shared plans and projections for several high budget, high-profile shows on Disney+ through its Marvel and Lucasfilm divisions. The company also discussed a number of movies which were originally slated to come out in theaters, but will now debut on Disney+, including the much anticipated Pixar film Soul, which will be released on Disney+ on Christmas Day.

In addition to sharing near-term plans for Disney+, the company also shared plans for releasing films like Black Widow in theaters once consumers return to pre-pandemic moviegoing habits. Investors seem confident that Disney will be able to adapt and deliver the kind of entertainment customers need no matter what the next year brings.

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