US entertainment giant Walt Disney on Wednesday blew past expectations for new subscribers to its flagship streaming service, but its theme parks division suffered under closures in Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan.
Its North American parks and resorts delivered revenue above pre-pandemic levels, but Disney expects international parks to be affected by Covid-19 for weeks or months to come.
The company’s overall revenue rose 34% to $21.82 billion in the quarter ended January 1, topping analysts’ estimate of $20.91 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
Its Disney+ streaming service reached 129.8 million subscribers worldwide, 5 million more than analysts had predicted, resulting in a roughly 8% jump in the firm’s shares in after-hours trades.
“Our unmatched collection of assets and platforms, creative capabilities, and unique place in the culture give me great confidence we will continue to define entertainment for the next 100 years,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said in an earnings statement.
Chapek told analysts that Disney+ still has plenty of room to grow in the US and internationally.
In January, Disney appointed Rebecca Campbell to head its direct-to-consumer businesses, including Disney+.
As chair of international content and operations, Campbell is responsible for expanding the international content creation pipeline in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, India and Latin America. She reports to Chapek.
Late last year, Disney announced an ambitious slate of Asia-Pacific projects, including original productions.
The company had commissioned drama, comedy, fantasy, romance, science-fiction, crime, horror, variety, documentary and anime programming from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, China and Australia.
Subject to local availability, the new titles will be available on the streaming service over the next year. The new projects are part of Disney’s ambition to greenlight more than 50 Asia-Pacific original programmes by 2023.
“We have created a new organisation in the company to shepherd development of that content” and hope to get “some global hits” out of locally produced content,” Chapek said.
Hampered by Pandemic
Disney’s “parks, experiences and products” revenues doubled to $7.2 billion compared to the same period a year earlier. Theme park operations hampered by the pandemic have been steadily ramping back up, according to the earnings release.
“Our domestic [US] parks and experiences are generally operating without significant mandatory Covid-19-related capacity restrictions,” Disney reported.
“However, we continue to manage capacity to address ongoing Covid-19 considerations with respect to guest and cast health and safety.”
Disney film and television productions have generally resumed, although it is still seeing disruptions in some places depending on local circumstances, according to the company.
- AFP, with Reuters and additional editing by George Russell