Disney+ Tops 94 Million Subscribers as Pandemic Continues to Drag Down Bottom Line

Disney expects to take $1 billion hit in 2021 as COVID-19 continues to hammer its theme parks and movies

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Disney reported earnings for its first fiscal quarter of 2021 on Thursday.

The company reported revenue of $16.2 billion during the first quarter, down 22% from the $20.9 billion reported during the same period last year. Analysts following the stock via Yahoo! Finance expected Disney revenue to come in at $15.9 billion. Disney also posted earnings per share of 32 cents, when analysts were expecting a loss per share of 41 cents.

The pandemic continues to drag down Disney’s bottom line. The media giant reported a profit of $29 million, down massively from last year’s $2.1 billion in the same quarter last year. That is largely because its theme parks (which took a $2.6 billion hit by themselves) remain either closed or operating at reduced capacity, while its movies have been either delayed or rerouted to Disney+.

Disney said it expects COVID-19 to result in another $1 billion hit during the fiscal 2021 year.

On the other end, Disney+ finished out its first full calendar year on a high note, as the service now has nearly 95 million subscribers around the world. That is up from the 86.8 million it reported as of Dec. 2. From the prior quarter (73 million), that’s an increase of 22 million. Between all of its streaming services, which include the standalone version of its forthcoming international brand Star, to reach between 300-350 million subscribers by 2024.

However, monthly revenue per paid subscriber for Disney+ decreased from $5.56 to $4.03 due to the launch of Disney+ Hotstar, according to the earnings report.

“We believe the strategic actions we’re taking to transform our Company will fuel our growth and enhance shareholder value, as demonstrated by the incredible strides we’ve made in our DTC business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We’re confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content and the upcoming launch of our new Star branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward.”

Hulu’s subscriber count hit 39.4 million, with 4 million of those subscribing to its Live TV offering. That’s up 30% from the quarter ending in on December 28, 2019. ESPN+ subscribers are at 12.1 million, up 83% of 6.6 million in December 2019. Both Hulu and ESPN+ saw a higher monthly revenue per paid subscriber as well: ESPN+ saw $4.48, while Hulu SVOD saw $13.51.

Going forward, Disney will only provide subscriber updates as of the end of the quarter being reported, which in this case is Jan. 2, 2021. During its first year, Disney executives would give more up-to-date metrics.

Theatrical distribution still remained low as theaters remained closed due to the pandemic.


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