Netflix briefly surpasses Disney in market value

Netflix briefly overtook Walt Disney Co. in market value Thursday in a watershed moment that established the streaming giant as the world’s most valuable entertainment company.

The Los Gatos, California-based company’s shares rose to roughly $354 per share at their peak, pushing Netflix toward a market capitalization of $153 billion. That total temporarily established Netflix as a more valuable company than Disney, which saw its market cap dip below $152 billion at one point. 

Disney rallied late Thursday to regain its leading position, finishing the day down less than 1% with a market cap of $152.1 billion, according to FactSet data. Netflix closed up 1.33%, with a market cap of $151.8 billion.

The event marked a milestone for Netflix, which has experienced rapid growth since embracing a streaming content model that emphasized original content such as the hit series “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards.” The streaming giant has more than 125 million total paid subscribers worldwide, including more than 56 million in the U.S. Company officials say Netflix will spend $8 billion on original content in 2018.

Netflix surpassed media rival Comcast in market value earlier this week.

Disney has seen massive success in its film and park segments through worldwide interest in its Star Wars and Marvel comic content. But the entertainment giant is also contending with difficulties at ESPN, which has lost millions of paid subscribers as more consumers turn to streaming options.

Disney launched a $4.99 ESPN streaming service in April and is expected to debut a second streaming option built around its Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel television and film content in 2019.

Netflix shares have risen roughly 80% in trading so far this year. Disney’s stock is down roughly 5% year-to-date.