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Media giant Walt Disney edged past popular over the top (OTT) platform Netflix with a total of 221 million streaming customers, announcing that it will raise prices for customers who seek to watch Disney+ or Hulu without commercials.

The Walt Disney will raise the monthly cost of Disney+ without advertising by 38% to $10.99 in December, as it would start to offer a new option that includes ads for the current price.

Earlier in 2017, Disney staked its future on building a streaming service to rival Netflix as audiences moved to online viewing from traditional cable and broadcast television.

In just five years, Disney has edged past Netflix in total streaming customers and added 14.4 million Disney+ customers, beating the consensus of 10 million expected by analysts polled by FactSet, as it released 'Star Wars' series 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' and Marvel's 'Ms. Marvel'.

ALSO READ: Disney’s streaming strategy, theme park outlook face investor scrutiny

Combined with Hulu and ESPN+, Disney said it had 221.1 million streaming subscribers at the end of the June quarter, while Netflix said it had 220.7 million streaming subscribers.

"Disney is gaining market share when Netflix is struggling to add more subscribers. Disney has still more room to grow in international markets where it’s rolling out its service fast and adding new customers," Reuters quoted ," Investing.com analyst Haris Anwar as saying.

Disney will also offer an ad-supported version starting on 8 December for $7.99 a month to attract new customers. This is the same price it now charges for the ad-free version, the company said. However, the price for Hulu will rise by $1 to $2 per month in December depending on the plan.

The firm decreased its long-term subscriber forecast for Disney+ customers on Wednesday, blaming the loss of cricket rights in India.

By the end of September 2024, Disney projects between 215 million and 245 million total Disney+ customers, that is down from the 230 million to 260 million which Disney had been forecasting.

The new adjustment arrived from reduced expectations for India, where the company is losing streaming rights for Indian Premier League cricket matches. This is for the first time that Disney broke out estimates for Disney+ Hotstar customers in India from the rest of Disney+.

Meanwhile, firm's Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said Disney expected to add up to 80 million Disney+ Hotstar customers by September 2024, and between 135 million and 165 million others.

The firm still expects its streaming TV unit to turn a profit in fiscal 2024 and division lost $1.1 billion in the recent quarter.

Disney posted adjusted earnings per share of $1.09, up 36% from a year earlier for the fiscal third quarter ended 2 July.

Also, operating income more than doubled at the parks, experiences and products division to $3.6 billion. While, streaming losses put a drag on the media and entertainment unit, whose profit declined by 32% to nearly $1.4 billion.

Overall, the revenue rose 26% from a year earlier to $21.5 billion, ahead of the analyst consensus of $20.96 billion.

With Reuters inputs. 

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