Netflix Is Now Worth More Than Disney, And It Only Took A Global Pandemic

It took a pandemic for Disney to be dethroned as the biggest entertainment company on the planet. With theme parks shuttered, theatrical releases delayed, and movie productions shut down across the world due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the House of Mouse has been seeing a drop in stocks — despite the successful rollout of the streaming platform Disney+.

With everyone quarantined inside, it's natural that streaming would be on the rise. But with Disney+ still in its early days, it's easy to see which company would rise to the top amid the pandemic: the streaming giant itself, Netflix. And as of end of trading last night, Netflix has officially overtaken Disney in total net worth.

Variety reports that Netflix's shares have overtaken Disney, putting the streamer's total net worth — at a stock price of $426.75 per share which gives it a current market capitalization of $187.3 billion, over the House of Mouse's $186.6 billion. Netflix's stocks hit an all-time high Wednesday, with investors expecting the streamer to do well during the coronavirus crisis, while Disney's stock dropped down 2.5% amid a broader market decline Wednesday.

How did Netflix, a tech company that only entered the Hollywood production market less than a decade ago, overtake a 100-year global multimedia conglomerate like Disney? According to analysts, it has to do with the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has thrown the economy into chaos, as businesses have shuttered and self-isolation has become the general practice. But one thing that has thrived? Streaming services.

Netflix was the first streaming service to disrupt the Hollywood studio system, and it seems like it could disrupt the entertainment industry at large as the pandemic wears on and experts remain uncertain if the world will return to as it was before coronavirus. And while Disney finally entered the streaming wars with the launch of Disney+ in November 2019, the company relies on all sorts of revenue streams, including theme parks, merchandising, and of course, movies, all of which have been put on hold during the coronavirus lockdown. Netflix was the company to pioneer streaming with original and library titles on its service, and thus maintains its status as the giant among streaming platforms.

Streaming has exploded during quarantine, with U.S. viewing of internet video on televisions up 109% in March 2020 compared with the comparable four-week period in 2019, according to Nielsen data, Variety reports. Netflix is scheduled to report its first quarter 2020 earnings on April 21 after market close. Experts expect that the previously forecast total paid net of 7.0 million worldwide will be even greater.

Other streaming platforms have seen an uptick since the global lockdown began. Disney's own Disney+, which launched in November 2019, surpassed a whopping 50 million customers worldwide, while Amazon's shares hit an all-time high Tuesday before setting a new record Wednesday.