With the Disney+ streaming service continuing to exceed expectations and partially offsetting losses due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions at its theme parks, the Walt Disney Co. reported better-than-expected earnings Thursday for the first quarter.
The Burbank-based company reported overall revenue of $16.25 billion, down 22% from the same quarter the previous year but ahead of analysts’ expectations. Adjusted earnings per share were 32 cents, down from $1.53 in the prior-year quarter.
Disney pointed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as its primary source of economic woe, noting “our parks and resorts have been closed or operating at significantly reduced capacity and our cruise ship sailings have been suspended.”
But the company’s direct-to-consumer business was thriving, with Disney+ reaching 94.9 million paid subscribers, and the ESPN+ and Hulu services also showing significant year-over-year increases. Disney reported a 73% increase in its direct-to-consumer segment revenue, compared to the prior-year quarter.
“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 (direct-to-consumer) business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement.
“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,” he said.