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Disney tops Netflix on streaming subscribers, sets higher prices

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LOS ANGELES:

Walt Disney Co edged past Netflix Inc with a total of 221 million streaming customers and announced it will increase prices for customers who want to watch Disney+ or Hulu without commercials.

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

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Shares of Disney rose 6.9% in after-hours trading to $120.15 on Wednesday.

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

Five years later, Disney has edged past Netflix in total streaming customers. The Mouse House 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.”

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

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

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To help attract new customers, Disney will offer an ad-supported version starting on Dec. 8 for $7.99 a month, the same price it now charges for the ad-free version, the company said.

Prices for Hulu will rise by $1 to $2 per month in December depending on the plan.

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

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

The adjustment came from reduced expectations for India, where the company is losing streaming rights for Indian Premier League cricket matches.

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For the first time, Disney broke out estimates for Disney+ Hotstar customers in India from the rest of Disney+.

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 company still expects its streaming TV unit to turn a profit in fiscal 2024, McCarthy said. In the most recent quarter, the division lost $1.1 billion.

For the fiscal third quarter ended July 2, Disney posted adjusted earnings per share of $1.09, up 36% from a year earlier, as visitors packed its theme parks. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected earnings of 96 cents.

Operating income more than doubled at the parks, experiences and products division to $3.6 billion.

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Streaming losses put a drag on the media and entertainment unit, whose profit declined by 32% to nearly $1.4 billion.

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



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Ericsson says only software support exported to Russia

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STOCKHOLM:

Ericsson said on Friday it is only providing software and technical support to Russian clients and has not sold any telecommunications equipment to mobile operators there since the Ukraine war started, after Swedish media reported the company had continued its exports.

Shares of the company fell 4% in morning trading.

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Ericsson suspended its business in Russia in April and said in August that it would exit the country in the coming months. It recorded a charge of 900 million Swedish crowns ($81 million) and made 400 employees redundant in the country as it winds down operations.

“Compliant with the sanctions we provide the software and technical assistance for those products that we have shipped prior to the invasion making it possible to withdraw while fulfilling contractual obligations,” a spokesperson said.

“When the sanctions were announced we stopped shipments to customers in Russia,” he said.

Rival Nokia, which has also announced plans to exit Russia before the end of the year, had said it does limited maintenance of critical networks to fulfill its contractual and humanitarian obligations. 

Sveriges Radio Ekot reported that Ericsson had applied for 12 permits for exemptions from sanctions from Sweden’s Inspectorate of Strategic Products and was granted seven.

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The sanctions list by the Swedish authority include software and technology linked to telecommunications.

The media outlet also said the products which Ericsson received permission to export to Russia could be used for the military.

Ericsson said its products are designed for civilian use, not military.

The Swedish authority issued a statement saying exemptions were related to civilian use and civilian end-users.

Two analysts said the Russia report is not going to look good for Ericsson which faced a scandal in February about payments to the Islamic State militant group in Iraq, triggering investigations by different U.S. agencies and eroding more than a third of its market value.

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“Ericsson hasn’t breached any sanctions as it has obtained approval … but it still stands in pretty clear contrast to the statement in their Q2-report where they announce suspension of ‘all deliveries to customers in Russia’,” said Jyske Bank analyst Anders Haulund Vollesen.

“Even though mobile telephony is for civil use an export licence is required mainly because of the advanced encryption technology that is embedded in our products, and this is to applicable for all countries,” the Ericsson spokesperson said.

($1 = 11.1164 Swedish crowns)



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World Cup players to get FIFA data analysis app

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MANCHESTER:

When the World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Nov. 20 fans can expect a flurry of stats and match footage on social media and FIFA is hoping that includes data and content from a new player app.

FIFA said on Friday that all players at the finals will be able to browse their performance data on a purpose-built app developed by the governing body which allow footballers of all 32 teams access to analysis and information.

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The app has been created after feedback from players, through the players union FIFPRO, and the data will be synched with video of the action to allow quick assessment of key moments.

While such data and metrics are widely available to players with the top clubs and national sides, who employ teams of analysts, the app will ensure squads with fewer resources also have access.

The app will make use of input from FIFA’s performance analysts, tracking data and physical performance metrics such as distance covered, sprints and positional heat maps.

Players will also be provided with photographs from the matches which they can share on social media along with stats and data.

“This player-centric development is based on direct feedback from the players and is another great example of how FIFA is using technology to the best of its potential by improving the football experience for the key actors on the pitch,” said Johannes Holzmueller, FIFA Director of Football Technology & Innovation.

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Simon Colosimo, FIFPRO Deputy General Secretary, said players had asked for better access to their performance data.

“The FIFA Player App is a positive outcome that will activate personal data rights and provide a new resource for players at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” he said.



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Updated Windows 11 now better at defending against attacks

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Microsoft’s popular operating system, Windows 11, is now better at defending against brute force attacks after the last update. 

The SMB authentication rate limiter is now enabled by default in the new update.

While explaining the new update, the Principal Program Manager at Microsoft said, “SMB server service now defaults to a 2-second default between each failed inbound NTLM authentication. This means if an attacker previously sent 300 brute force attempts per second from a client for 5 minutes (90,000 passwords), the same number of attempts would now take 50 hours at a minimum”.

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Microsoft has been working on the new update for the last few months. Through the latest update, the goal is to make the system an unattractive target for the attacker.

 



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