Disney strikes back in streaming wars

Disney strikes back in the streaming wars.

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The company launched its Disney Plus streaming service on Tuesday, sending a shot across the bow of Netflix and Apple TV Plus.

The service, which costs $6.99 a month, will launch with more than 500 movies and 7,500 TV episodes. That’s expected to grow to 620 movies and 10,000 TV episodes over the next five years as deals with other streaming services expire. Titles will include “Star Wars” movies, “The Simpsons,” “Cinderella” and more.

“With aggressive price points and an eye popping library of content we believe the House of Mouse will further flex its content muscles with a strong lineup of new titles that will further beef up its streaming ambitions over the next 12 to 18 months,” wrote Dan Ives, managing director at Wedbush Securities.

The battle over eyeballs has gotten more competitive in recent weeks.

According to Ives, Apple TV Plus, which launched on Nov. 1 and costs $4.99 a month, has the chance to gain 100 million consumers over the next three to four years. On Oct. 29, WarnerMedia announced HBO Max, which will cost $14.99 a month, will debut in May 2020.

A Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of more than 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older found 17 percent of respondents plan to sign up for Disney Plus, more than Apple TV Plus (9 percent) and HBO Max (6 percent). Five percent of the survey pool said they were likely to cancel their Netflix subscription once Disney Plus launches.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts who conducted the survey say they “take the cancellation responses with a grain of salt” as Netflix sees about a 2 percent monthly churn rate.

Barry Diller, chairman and senior executive of IAC and Expedia, thinks Disney Plus will be successful, but won’t be able to go toe-to-toe with Netflix.

“Disney has such appealing content that I think they’ll do well,” Diller told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo last month. “Will they ever get to Netflix’s size? I can’t imagine it. It seems incomprehensible to me that that will happen.”

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Disney shares have gained 17.9 percent since Disney Plus was announced on Nov. 8, 2018.