Disney+ added 7.9 million subscribers in the latest quarter, bringing the total to 138 million worldwide, which it announced Wednesday helped avoid the slowdown in streaming that recently plunged Netflix stock.
Disney’s stock, like most media companies, plummeted last month after Netflix announced it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year and expects to lose another 2 million this quarter. After years of applause for media companies that have lost billions of dollars to streaming, investors are now pressured to find a path to profitability.
Releases of movies like Pixar’s “Turning Red” helped Disney+ attract subscribers in the first quarter, which ended April 2nd. Disney’s stock has risen about 4% in after-hours trading since the earnings announcement.
Disney’s result is, among other things, some good news for CEO Bob Chapek, who is dealing with a public relations crisis caused by the company’s response to Florida school legislation that limits classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. (Disney is the state’s largest private employer.)
The company initially refrained from publicly speaking out on the bill, but turned itself back on after an internal uprising. Mr. Chapek then denounced the bill, which provoked outrage among conservatives, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Last month, Republican lawmakers in Florida withdrew a 1967 bill that allowed Walt Disney World to act as its own quasi-government. In the wake of the controversy, Geoff Morrell, the top senior government relations and communications officer, resigned last month, who joined Disney in January.
Disney’s revenue was $19.2 billion, up 23% from last year, but it fell short of analyst expectations. Disney says it has been hit by the decision to revert some content from other distributors for its own channels. consumer business.
Disney reported earnings per share of $1.08, beating analysts’ expectations of $1.17.
Disney’s theme park division has been revived after face-to-face attendance was curtailed a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of the segment more than doubled compared to the same period last year due to the increase in the operation of the new line skip system.
India is emerging as an important market as streaming services gain more subscribers. Wealthy media companies are preparing to bid for the right to show cricket matches from the popular Indian Premier League. Disney currently reserves the right to stream matches on the Hotstar service, which it acquired in a 2019 mega deal with 21st Century Fox. Losing these rights can be devastating. However, Chapek said it could reach its subscriber goal even if Disney doesn’t have those rights.
It’s an evolving story. Check back later for more details.