Netflix eclipses Disney as coronavirus shakes up entertainment industry

Netflix topped its streaming rival in market capitalization as Americans shelter in place.

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Netflix surpassed the Walt Disney Company in market value as of the close of trading Wednesday as the entertainment giants contend with the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix had a market capitalization, or value of all publicly traded shares, of roughly $187.3 billion after a three percent rise on Wednesday. Disney’s market capitalization was roughly $186.6 billion after shares fell more than two percent during the session.

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The shift in market value occurred along with a decline in U.S. stock indices. Netflix shares closed at an all-time high of $426.75. The company briefly became more valuable than Disney in March 2019.

Streaming platforms are experiencing a sharp spike in viewership as state and city authorities maintain shelter-in-place orders, leaving Americans in search of entertainment options. Netflix is the world’s largest streaming service, with 167.1 million global paid subscribers as of January.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
DISWALT DISNEY COMPANY124.82+1.13+0.91%
NFLXNETFLIX INC.419.60+5.27+1.27%

Disney Plus amassed 50 million global paid subscribers within five months of its launch, company executives announced earlier this month. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of Disney theme parks around the world and pushed the company to furlough tens of thousands of employees.

In the weeks prior to the outbreak, longtime Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that he would transition to the role of executive chairman and appointed Bob Chapek as his successor. However, Iger has reasserted his leading role at the company as the crisis weighed on Disney’s business, according to the New York Times.

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Chapek was named to Disney’s board of directors.

Netflix is set to report first-quarter earnings on Tuesday. The company previously forecast a net gain of seven million global paid subscribers, though that number was released prior to the pandemic’s sweeping economic impact.

Widespread shelter-in-place orders have pushed film and television series to shut down production on upcoming releases and forced movie theaters around the country to close, raising questions about the content platform for streaming services. Several movie studios have approached Netflix about buying rights to films that they were unable to release in theaters, The Information reported earlier this week.

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