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Disney’s stock price took off like the Mandalorian’s jetpack early Friday after the Mouse House laid out ambitious plans for its Disney+ streaming service.
Shares in the Hollywood giant jumped about 8 percent to $167.08 in premarket trading as of 7:57 a.m. after it revealed Disney+ had racked up nearly 87 million subscribers since its November 2019 launch.
That number shattered expectations for Disney+, which was initially expected to draw 60 to 90 million subscribers by 2024, according to reports.
The platform — which has attracted viewers with a huge library of Mouse House content and original programs like the hit “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” — is the largest plank of Disney’s streaming portfolio that also includes Hulu and ESPN+.
Those three services had a combined subscriber base of more than 137 million, a number Disney expects to balloon to 300 to 350 million by the 2024 fiscal year. The growth will be “driven primarily by a significant increase in content output,” with Disney+ planning to release more than 100 titles a year, the company said.
“Streaming success has shifted attention away from weakness elsewhere” at Disney, whose theme park business has suffered greatly from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Geetha Ranganathan and Kevin Near.
“Disney’s pivot to streaming has succeeded with flying colors, setting it up for a close contest with Netflix, which has 195 million global subscribers,” they said in a research note.
Disney revealed the strong subscriber numbers about two months after announcing a restructuring of its media and entertainment business to put a greater emphasis on streaming as the COVID-19 crisis kept movie theaters largely empty.
The Mouse House also generated buzz Thursday by announcing a huge slate of new content for the coming years, including roughly 10 “Star Wars” series, a new “Indiana Jones” film and four more seasons of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which is now the longest-running live-action sitcom in history.
But all those goodies will come at a higher cost — Disney said it will start charging $7.99 a month for Disney+ on March 26, up from the current rate of $6.99. The price for the “Disney Bundle” that buys access to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ will also rise by $1 to $13.99 a month.
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