Who Are Walt Disney's Main Competitors?

Disney and Its Media Properties

The Walt Disney Company (DIS) has built a diverse empire since its beginning in the 1920s, creating a huge range of lucrative products in a number of marketplaces. As the largest mass media conglomerate in the world, Disney is best known for its film and TV productions and theme parks. Its television arm controls the ABC television network, with eight owned-and-operated broadcasting stations and over 240 affiliates, as well as a number of cable networks, including Freeform, Disney Channel, and ESPN.

Walt Disney Pictures, Disney Animation, and Pixar produce films for Walt Disney Studios, and Disney also owns Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm, which have become cash cows for them in the film and merchandise markets. It also has a presence in the travel industry, with the Disney Cruise line and theme parks, Walt Disney World and Disneyland, which have remained extremely popular for decades and now include foreign parks around the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Disney is a media and entertainment powerhouse, owning several brands and properties.
  • Because it has its hands in so many corners of the media industry, it also has many competitors.
  • Despite competition throughout the ages, Disney has been resilient, taking out the competition when necessary.

Disney's Competitors

Disney faces a number of competitors across its various markets, with ViacomCBS (VIAC), Charter Communications (CHTR), Sony (SNE), and Comcast (CMCSA) being its main competitors. These companies compete with Disney's products mainly through TV, cable, and other media markets such as DVD/Blue-ray, video games, and the Internet.

The growth of multichannel video programming network distributors and cable networks has increased the competitive pressure for Disney. Contracts are renegotiated at certain points in these markets, and the rise of competition puts increased difficulty on Disney to renew the contracts with such favorable conditions as it has had in the past.

In the theme-park market, major rivals to Disney include Six Flags Entertainment (SIX), Cedar Fair (FUN), Universal Studios, and Comcast. This competition has increased in recent times, particularly due to Universal's cashing in on the popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies. Universal Orlando has opened a Harry Potter-themed land in Orlando and Hollywood, which has boosted attendance numbers.

Entertainment Dominance

Disney's studio entertainment businesses continually manage to innovate, and profits often show this. Disney produces a range of consumer products with involvement in licensing, publishing, and retail and thus competes with other vendors in these areas. However, according to Market Realist, Disney believes it is the largest worldwide licensor of character-based merchandise.

Recently, Disney and Fox made headlines when it was revealed that Disney had been negotiating with 21st Century Fox to acquire some of Fox's assets, particularly its film studio and the streaming service Hulu, in order to create a competitor to Netflix. On March 20, 2019, Disney officially acquired all the media assets of 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion, making Disney the largest media powerhouse on the planet.

According to its 4Q 2021 quarterly report, Disney Parks, Experiences and Product revenues increased to $5.5 billion in the 4th quarter versus $2.7 billion in the prior-year quarter. The parks and resorts were open for the entire 4th quarter in 2021, which was not the case for all Disney locations in the 4th quarter of 2020.

While Disney's profits do fluctuate, in part due to seasonality and timing of releases, it remains a massive presence in several industries and one that most people identify with when they think of animated films and theme parks.

Article Sources

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  2. The Walt Disney Company. "About the Walt Disney Company." Accessed Jan. 20, 2022.

  3. Market Realist. "Must-Know Guide to the Walt Disney Company's Competitors." Accessed Jan. 20, 2022.

  4. The Walt Disney Company. "Disney and 21st Century Fox Announce per Share Value in Connection with $71 Billion Acquisition." Accessed Jan. 20, 2022.

  5. The Walt Disney Company. "The Walt Disney Company Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year Earnings for Fiscal 2021," Page 7-8. Accessed Jan. 20, 2022.