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Netflix: Disney+ will be a “formidable” partner

Netflix boss Reed Hastings has said that Disney’s SVOD service will be a “formidable” partner for the streaming giant when it launches next year.

The exec told the BBC that Disney+, which was unveiled last week by CEO Bob Iger, has got “so much content [like] Star Wars and Marvel, they’ll be a great competitor. And that will push us to do the best work of our lives.”

Disney+ will house five brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo and Star Wars. It is to launch in late 2019, with a number of high-profile content offerings, such as Star Wars series spin-offs and feature films.

Four months before it revealed its proposed acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets, Disney said it would be pulling its content from Netflix in preparation of the launch of its own streaming service.

However, Hastings appeared largely unfazed by Disney’s plans, noting that Netflix has “been competing with Amazon for more than 10 years, so we’re used to healthy, strong competition. It makes us better.”

Netflix added 7m members over Q3, higher than its estimate of 5m, taking its total user-base to 137m, including users that are signed up to a free trial.

The SVOD giant has said it expects to add a total of 9.4m customers in the fourth quarter, up from 8.3m in Q4 2017. Of these new additions it expects 7.6m of them to be paying subscribers.

Netflix also reported around US$8.3bn of long-term debt, while its ballooning content costs – or “free cash flow” – for the quarter came in around -US$839m, up from -US$559m in the last quarter.

However, Hastings remained bullish about Netflix’s performance, noting that the business’s debt levels are “quite sustainable.”

“We’re continuing to expand throughout the world and we are investing in content ahead of our revenue. And what that does is attract new subscribers, which is why in the stock market we are up over 1,000% in the last five years, because that investment has been so successful.”