If it wasn’t abundantly clear that content is king, especially in the Covid-19 era, Disney hammered that point home Thursday when it previewed dozens of new series and movies for its Disney+ streaming service. And investors are loving it.
Shares of Disney (DIS) jumped 13% Friday to a new all-time high. The stock is now up more than 20% this year, an impressive feat given that the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Disney’s theme park business and forced its movie studios to delay big releases in theaters.
Investors are clearly betting that the streaming strength will offset any lingering weakness in other areas of the House of Mouse empire: Disney raised its forecast for subscriber growth and is upping prices for Disney+.
Wall Street analysts rushed to upgrade Disney following Thursday’s event. At least 13 analysts boosted their price targets on the stock Friday morning.
Citi analyst Jason Bazinet noted in a report Friday that Disney was making a “robust commitment” to new content, noting that the increased costs on programming were paying off as subscriber growth has continued to increase faster than forecast.
The numbers prove Disney can go toe-to-toe with current streaming king Netflix (NFLX), whose shares are up more than 50% year-to-date. In addition to its namesake movie studio and animated library, Disney also owns Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars creator Lucasfilm.
“The Mandalorian,” a Star Wars spinoff, has become a huge commercial and critical success, turning Baby Yoda into a pop culture phenomenon.
Disney also recently acquired studio assets from Fox (FOXA), giving the family-friendly media giant some decidedly more adult-oriented, R-rated fare too. And Disney also now has full control over streaming service Hulu.
But streaming competition is getting more intense. Disney and Netflix have to contend with tech giants Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), which are spending more on original programming.
Other media giants are also launching streaming services, most notably Comcast’s (CMCSA) Peacock; the rebranding of CBS All Access as Paramount+ from ViacomCBS (VIACA); and HBO Max, the service for Warner Bros. content that’s owned by CNN’s parent company, AT&T’s (T) WarnerMedia.