Netflix is worth more than Disney, thanks to coronavirus

A bittersweet victory.
A bittersweet victory.
Image: Netflix
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

For only the second time ever, Netflix is worth more than Disney. But this time, it could stay that way for awhile.

Netflix’s stock surged to an all-time high yesterday, putting the streaming service’s market capitalization at $187.3 billion. Disney’s market cap, meanwhile, has plummeted in the last two months as the coronavirus pandemic ravages its movies and parks businesses.

In February, the Mouse House was valued at more than $250 billion. As of yesterday, its market cap was $186.5 billion, slightly lower than Netflix’s:

Netflix’s stock continued to climb this morning, adding to its unusual gains amid the pandemic. (The company’s market cap was $194 billion, as of this writing. Disney’s was down to $183 billion.) It is one of only 30 companies in the S&P 500 to gain in the first quarter of this year, MarketWatch reported.

The streaming service is uniquely positioned to weather this global storm. Unlike Disney, it has no other major businesses vulnerable to the pandemic. Disney’s nascent streaming service, Disney+, is booming, but not enough to offset all the losses from theme parks and movie theaters being shut down. And while new streaming platforms like Quibi fight for brand recognition in this difficult setting, Netflix is already a regular part of its 167 million global subscribers’ entertainment diets.

For now, Netflix is still churning out content, allowing the company to continue its momentum for at least another few months. But with all Hollywood production on hold, Netflix—like every other streaming service, TV network, and movie studio—will eventually run out of new stuff to show viewers. Until then, expect it to be one of the few major companies to thrive financially as hundreds of millions of people around the world quarantine at home.

Netflix last surpassed Disney in market value in May of 2018, but that only lasted about six weeks. (At the time, Disney’s stock was falling after Comcast said it would beat Disney’s offer for Fox’s entertainment assets. Disney ended up winning that battle a few months later.) This time around, however, the streaming service’s triumph over its entertainment rival could signal a sea change.