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With superheroes and sci-fi, Disney + future looks bright

By Aniruddha Ghosh and Eva Mathews

(Reuters) – Slow subscriber growth on Walt Disney Co’s streaming service in the last quarter was a hurdle, but a series of Marvel superhero movies and Hollywood powerhouse sci-fi thrillers will attract new fans, analysts said.

The positive comments come a day after Disney +, the streaming service the company launched in late 2019, announced that it failed to reach as many subscribers in early April as Wall Street had estimated. Disney shares fell 3.3% in pre-market trading on Friday.

Disney + is late to streaming, dominated for years by Netflix Inc, but can afford to slow down in terms of new content than rivals like Apple Inc, appealing to older but popular movies and series.

“The benefit as far as Disney + is concerned is that its content already exists and does not age in the same way as many of today’s movies,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “In the streaming world, that’s a godsend.”

Disney focused on the streaming service during the pandemic, quickly adding subscribers as people stayed home and searched for more content than Netflix could offer. As of early April, Disney + had more than 103.6 million subscribers worldwide.

The service’s explosive growth sent Disney shares up a quarter last year, despite heavy losses at the unit that houses Disney +.

Still, Disney +, as well as other streaming services, is unlikely to sustain the growth seen during the pandemic, analysts say, as people turn off their devices after months of binge-watching and head out to enjoy the outdoors as which increases vaccination.

Last month, Netflix forecast a lower-than-expected subscriber growth for the June quarter.

(Reporting by Aniruddha Ghosh, Eva Mathews, Subrat Patnaik in Bangalore. Edited in Spanish by Lucila Sigal)

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