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Disney Makes Up Ground on Netflix With Blowout Disney+ Subscriber Adds

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  • Disney added 11.8 million new Disney+ subscribers last quarter, beating expectations.
  • The company's shares rose about 8% after hours.
  • Disney's numbers temporarily eased investor concerns about streaming subscribers after Netflix's disappointing forecast.

The Streaming Wars are heating up — at least between Disney and Netflix.

Disney added 11.8 million Disney+ subscribers globally in the fiscal first quarter, topping the average analyst estimate of around 7 million, according to StreetAccount.

That sent shares rocketing up about 8% in extended trading, as investors were at least temporarily reassured about the health of the streaming industry after Netflix forecasted a growth slowdown.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek reaffirmed the company's target of reaching 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2024. Disney has 129.8 million Disney+ subscribers globally, including India's Disney+ Hotstar, which accounts for 45.9 million of the total.

"That's been our target, and that continues to be our target," Chapek told CNBC. He added that Disney will have double the amount of owned content from brands including Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar on Disney+ than it did in 2021.

Disney's subscriber growth surpassed Netflix for the last three months of 2021, underscoring Netflix's admission last month that competition may be eating into its user base.

Netflix added 8.3 million new subscribers last quarter, bringing its global total to 222 million. Netflix shares fell more than 20% after the company said it expects just 2.5 million new subscribers for the first quarter, falling far short of analyst estimates.

The average revenue per user per month for Disney+ in the U.S. and Canada was $6.68, up 15% from a year ago, after Disney announced a $1 per month price hike in March. Hotstar, a far less expensive product, had ARPU of $1.03, up 5% from a year ago.

Netflix's ARPU in the U.S. and Canada last quarter was $14.78.

WATCH: CNBC's full interview with Disney CEO Bob Chapek

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