Walt Disney edged past Netflix with a total of 221 million streaming subscribers at the end of the most recent quarter and announced it will launch a Disney+ option with advertising this December.
In the just-ended quarter, Disney+ added 14.4 million Disney+ customers, beating the consensus of 10 million expected by analysts polled by FactSet, as it released Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi and Marvel’s Ms Marvel.
Combined with Hulu and ESPN+, Disney said it had 221.1 million streaming subscribers at the end of the June quarter. Netflix said it had 220.7 million streaming subscribers.
The company announced that Disney+ with ads will cost $7.99 a month, the same price the company now charges for the ad-free version. The cost of Disney+ without ads will increase by $3 a month to $10.99 as of 8 December. Prices for Hulu, also owned by Disney, will rise by $1 to $2 a month depending on the plan.
In 2017 Disney staked its future on building a streaming service to rival Netflix as audiences moved to online viewing from traditional cable and broadcast television.
The world’s largest entertainment company reported profits of $1.41bn, as visitors packed its theme parks. Operating income more than doubled at the parks, experiences and products division to $3.6bn.
“We had an excellent quarter, with our world-class creative and business teams powering outstanding performance at our domestic theme parks, big increases in live-sports viewership, and significant subscriber growth at our streaming services,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer.
Shares of Disney, which had fallen 28% this year, rose 4% in after-hours trading to $116.85.
Disney‘s streaming effort is still losing money, reporting a loss of $1.1bn for the quarter. That put a drag on the media and entertainment unit, whose profit declined by 32% to nearly $1.4bn.
Reuters contributed to this article