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Disney Competitors and Alternatives: Who Stacks Up Against this Media Giant?

Brent Davis - May 14, 2021

Disney Competitors

Disney is one of the most recognizable brands in the world thanks to its storytelling, theme parks, and an array of popular characters.

The Walt Disney Company is named after its founder Walt Disney and started as an animation house. Disney Competitors

Today, the company is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world with a worldwide audience.

The company has had several high-profile acquisitions including 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar.

The Walt Disney Company is traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is listed under the ticker symbol DIS and is a popular long-term investment.

The company has total revenue of $65.388 billion and an operating income of $8.108 billion. 

Its revenue is driven by different divisions.

First, it is driven by Disney Parks, Experiences and Products which includes theme parks, cruises, merchandise, and publishing.

Second, revenue comes from Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, which handles global distribution, sales, advertising, operations, and technology for the company. 

The rest of the company’s divisions are made up of its film and television studios.

The Walt Disney Studios handles the theatrical side of the business. Disney General Entertainment Content works with its television content.

Lastly, ESPN and Sports Content deals with the company’s live sports programming and original sporting content.

Disney Biggest Competitors

Disney makes its money primarily through three sources.

The Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division brings in the bulk of its money accounting for 37.6% of revenue in 2019.

Its second-largest source of income is through its media networks such as ABC.

It accounted for 35.6% of revenue in 2019. Its studios bring around 16% of its total revenue which includes the sale of movies, home entertainment, and subscription services.

Disney competitors are WarnerMedia, Sony, Comcast, and ViacomCBS.

20th Century Fox used to be one of the biggest Disney competitors, however, Disney acquired the company in 2019. 

Here are the biggest Disney competitors:

  • WarnerMedia – Owned by AT&T and produces films and television.
  • Comcast – Operates various television and film studios as well as theme parks.
  • ViacomCBS – One of the largest media companies in the world with many well-known brands.


Disney Competitors: WarnerMediaDisney Competitors

WarnerMedia is one of Disney’s main competitors which is owned by AT&T.

The company began in 1990 and was founded by Steve Ross, at that time it was known as Time Warner.

The company operates under three separate divisions Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), HBO, and Warner Bros.

Pictures. The company owns the rights to many of the world’s most popular franchises including Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

In 2020 the company reported total revenue of $30.4 billion alongside an operating income of $8 billion.

The company introduced its own streaming service called HBO Max which directly competes with Disney’s Disney+ service.

WarnerMedia has been releasing its big blockbuster films on HBO Max for no extra cost, while Disney is asking for a $30 premium fee.

Disney Competitors: Comcast Disney Competitors

Comcast competes with Disney for both its entertainment customers and has a theme parks and experiences division.

Comcast is the largest internet service provider and largest cable TV provider in the United States. 

Through its NBCUniversal division, the company produces films, TV shows and has its own streaming service called Peacock.

Its cable networks reach over 800 million homes in the U.S. It accounts for 5% of the company’s total revenue.

Comcast is a public company that trades on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CMCSA.

In 2020 the company posted total revenue of $103.56 billion. The operating income for Comcast was $17.4 billion.

The company employs over 190,000 people worldwide. Its theme park business, known as Universal parks, is the third-largest operator by attendance figures. It is behind Disney and the Merlin Entertainment Groups.

Disney Competitors: ViacomCBSDisney Competitors

Thanks to the merger between Viacom and CBS in 2019, ViacomCBS is one of the largest media companies in the world.

Alongside its film and TV production divisions, the company hosts live events, sells merchandise, and publishes books. 

It is the home to many well-known brands including Nickelodeon, Simon and Schuster, MTV, and Paramount.

The company has also entered the streaming service market with Paramount+ and CBS All Access.

ViacomCBS is publicly traded on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol VIACA. It is also part of the S and P 500 component stock market index.

In 2020 the company reported total revenue of $25.29 billion.

Its operating income for 2020 was $4.14 billion and they employ over 22,000 people around the world. 

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What Is Disney’s Advantage?

Disney’s advantage is its incredibly deep pockets and the ability to attract top-tier talent to their business.

Disney is home to 3 of the top 5 highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

This includes Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, and Star Wars.

While Mickey Mouse and Friends are the creation of Walt Disney and The Walt Disney Company, Star Wars, and Winnie the Pooh were acquisitions.

This highlights how a willingness to spend money on the right acquisitions is a part of Disney’s competitive advantage.

Its theme park business is the most popular in the world with tens of millions of people visiting the parks each year.

Disney’s subsidiaries are all market leaders in whatever industry they are in.

From their cruise lines to the Disney Music Group, Disney is known for providing word class products and services.

Disney is exposed to consumers from a very young age.

Their line of children’s films, such as The Lion King, Aladdin, and Snow White, are adored by children and adults alike.

The Disney name is one people learn young and thanks to the wide range of products they offer, the name is never far from sight.

Disney Competitors and Alternatives: Final Thoughts

The Walt Disney Company tends to target the kid and family niches which means it doesn’t offer much entertainment aimed exclusively at adults.

For example, they rarely allow their films to be rated R and so Disney competitors are able to successfully target more adult audiences.

This doesn’t really phase Disney, however, as they drive significant income from their family-orientated businesses.

As long as public sentiment doesn’t shift too heavily into more adult themes, Disney will continue to be a high performer.

It’s a beloved brand that constantly delivers exceptional products that audiences love.


Brent Davis has been writing about the financial markets for 10 years and worked in research for the last five years at a Fortune 500 company. Brent's investing strategy is to buy high-quality companies and then let compounding do its thing.