Disney Stock Rallies as Disney+ Tops 50 Million Paid Subscribers

Courtesy of Disney+
Disney+'s 'Noelle'

Shares in the Hollywood studio jumped by 3.5 percent on strong streaming customer data.

Wall Street on Thursday rewarded The Walt Disney Co. for its streaming battle success against Netflix on news that Disney+ had hit 50 million paid subscribers globally.

Shares in Disney rose $3.48, or 3.5 percent, to $104.49 on the New York Stock Exchange after opening trading on the day at $107.92. Stock in the studio is well down from a 52-week high of $153.41 after investors factored in the recent COVID-19 impact on Disney. 

The latest stock rally follows the announcement a day earlier that Disney's streaming service, which launched Nov. 12, had surpassed the 50 million subscriber milestone. As Disney+ expands internationally, the service on March 24 became available in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other European countries, before bowing in India last Friday.

Disney's streamer in five months has challenged Netflix, which had 167 million global subscribers at the end of fiscal 2019, but debuted more than a decade ago.

As the novel coronavirus has TV viewers stuck at home, Disney+ began streaming Pixar's new animated feature Onward, which first hit theaters in early March, earlier than expected, and this month has also offered films such as African Cats, Born in China and Sea of Hope: America's Underwater Treasures.

Media analysts on Thursday said Disney+ was pacing well towards the studio's 60 million to 90 million forecast by 2024, which is welcome news given Disney elsewhere has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and Wall Street watchers earlier reduced expectations for other businesses at the studio. 

Disney Studios has seen a severe pullback in its business amid theater closures and delayed productions. Meanwhile, the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort remain closed indefinitely, and Disney executive chairman Bob Iger on Tuesday said talks are underway about best practices for when the North American theme parks can reopen.