Netflix's CEO says it has to catch up with Disney+ on animated family hits like 'Soul'

Disney/PixarDisney and Pixar’s ‘Soul’ was released digitally in December.
  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that Disney+’s ability to cope with the pandemic and release new content is “super impressive.”
  • Hastings is hoping that Netflix can catch up with Disney’s family animation content, like “Soul.”
  • Netflix said it plans to expand on its 200 million subscribers as it improves it explores new distribution avenues.
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Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings had positive things to say about Disney’s new competing streaming service, and said it’s encouraging his company to continually improve through new, more diverse, content.

“It’s super impressive what Disney has done,” he said on a conference call following Netflix’s positive fourth quarter results on Tuesday. “It’s incredible execution for an incumbent to pivot to take on the insurgent. It shows members are willing and interested to pay for more content because they’re hungry for great stories. And Disney does have great stories.”

Even though Hastings refers to Disney+ as the incumbent, many investors and analysts say Netflix — with its roots in the digital era — is the real incumbent, especially is it relates to streaming.

“It is going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show by show, movie by movie,” Hastings said. “And we’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see.”

Netflix also said it has surpassed 200 million paid subscribers, adding 8.51 million paid subscribers during the fourth quarter, where it had originally forecast adding 6 million subscribers during the fourth quarter. For context, Disney said in December that Disney+ was up to 86.8 million subscribers as of December 2.


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Netflix is planning to catch up with Disney’s lead on family animation, executives said, but thinks its lead on general entertainment that is “stimulating,” such as Bridgeton, is here to stay. The show was watched by 63 million households in its first 28 days since its debut on the streaming platform on Christmas Day, setting it to be Netflix’s fifth largest original series yet.

Netflix also said it plans to improve its distribution footprint and access more subscribers as the pandemic continues to accelerate a shift in streaming trends.

Disney+, meanwhile, plans to launch more Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar movies and series throughout the coming years as it plans to reach 260 million subscribers by 2024.

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