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Global Economy

Disney is catching up with Netflix

The number of subscribers to the Disney Group's streaming services rose to 221 million by the end of June. The US company announced this last night. The American entertainment giant's streaming services include Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

The group has thus caught up with the previous market leader Netflix. He had recently lost customers and also ended the past quarter with around 221 million user accounts. "We had an excellent quarter," said Disney boss Bob Chapek when presenting the business figures.

Above all, two big success series

The streaming services Disney+ and ESPN+ in particular grew strongly with annual growth rates of 31 and 53 percent respectively. They now have a good 152 million or almost 23 million subscribers. Disney's third streaming service Hulu increased the number of subscribers by eight percent to around 46 million users. The Disney+ streaming service, which was only launched in November 2019 as a Netflix hunter, gained 14.4 million customers in three months – significantly more than experts expected. Disney+ landed two big hits with the "Star Wars" series "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and Marvel's "Ms. Marvel".

Disney immediately used the strong demand for the streaming services to initiate strong price increases. For example, the price for the standard ad-free subscription to Disney+ for customers in the US will increase by $3 to $10.99 per month on December 8th. However, like Netflix, Disney wants to introduce a cheaper version with commercial breaks. This offer is said to cost $7.99 a month – as much as the ad-free subscription used to be. With Hulu, the price goes up by one to two dollars per month, depending on the subscription model. ESPN+ also recently announced a price increase in the US.

Heavy investments in streaming platforms

The US Internet company Amazon recently announced a price increase for its Amazon Prime video service. In September, the price will rise by almost a third from EUR 69 a year to EUR 89.90. Last week, Amazon's free streaming service, financed by advertising, was launched in Germany – "freeve".

In addition to Netflix and Disney, Amazon and Apple are also investing heavily in their streaming platforms to win over viewers who want to watch new series and films regularly at home. Streaming is therefore still a negative business for Disney – the group reported a loss of 1.1 billion dollars for the past quarter. This weighed on the media and entertainment division, whose profit fell 32 percent to $1.38 billion.

By the end of September 2024, the entertainment group Walt Disney expects 215 to 245 million customers for its Disney+ streaming service. The company had previously assumed that there would be 230 to 260 million paying customers. Expectations have now been lowered somewhat.

Profit with movie studios, theme parks and cruise ships

On the other hand, things continued to go well for the entire entertainment empire, which also includes the classic cable division as well as film studios, theme parks, holiday resorts and cruise ships. Sales grew 26 percent year-on-year to $21.5 billion. Profit rose 53 percent to $1.4 billion.

The quarterly figures significantly exceeded analysts' expectations. The share initially reacted after the trading session with a price increase of more than four percent. Disney has recently had a difficult time on Wall Street – the share has been down 28 percent since the beginning of the year.

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