Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) stock rallied in pre-market dealing as streaming business provided silver lining to another tough trading period for the entertainment and theme park conglomerate.
Disney+ subscribers now total some 60.5mln subscribers globally and its international roll-out continues.
Moreover, the Star Wars and Marvel owner also revealed plans to stream new releases via a premium on-demand service to Disney+ subscribers starting with the new live-action Mulan movie which is due for theatrical release from September 4.
Customers will pay US$29.99 (or equivalent) to stream Mulan. Presently it is deemed a one-off, though its performance will be closely watched - not least as there’s at least one delayed Marvel Cinematic Universe movie presently delayed following the pandemic (Black Widow is now slated for November).
The continued growth of Disney+ has buoyed the group’s broader streaming and ‘direct-to-consumer’ (DTC) business, which includes ESPN+ and Hulu, with the whole unit now boasting over 100mln subscribers worldwide.
Chief executive Bob Chapek described it as a significant milestone and said the DTC unit is key to the future growth of the company.
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we’ve continued to build on the incredible success of Disney+ as we grow our global direct-to-consumer businesses,” Chapek said.
Overall, Disney continued to be dented by the pandemic, especially at the theme parks and resorts. Some of which are now open though remain very much below capacity. Disney estimates the impact on the Parks, Experiences and Products unit at US$3.5bn.
The Disney Cruise business continues to be suspended, movie and TV productions have been delayed or suspended, and merchandising has been adversely impacted. Cancellation of major sporting events meant certain savings for sports programming, which offset some of the COVID-19 impact.
Overall, Disney reckons the pandemic cost the group US$2.9bn during the third quarter.
Disney generated a total of US$11.77bn of revenue in the June quarter, versus US$20.26bn in the same period of 2019.
It reported a 3Q loss of US$4.8bn from continuing operations before taxes, compared to US$2bn of income in 3Q 2019. The net 3Q loss was marked at US$4.7bn, versus US$3.9bn of income a year before.
Earnings per share (diluted EPS, from continuing operations) showed a US$2.61 loss, against a 79 cent per share gain in 3Q 2019.
The nine-month EPS (from continuing operations) metric showed a US$1.17 loss, versus a 2019 comparison at US$5.97.