Disney beats expectations as streaming subscriber losses aren’t as bad as feared

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LOS ANGELES – Smaller subscriber losses and a beat on the top and bottom lines were the highlights of Disney‘s fiscal first-quarter earnings report.

While the company’s linear TV and direct-to-consumer units struggled during the period, its theme parks saw significant growth year-over-year.

With CEO Bob Iger back at the helm, Disney is seeking to make a “significant transformation” of its business by reducing expenses and putting the creative power back in the hands of its content creators.

“We believe the work we are doing to reshape our company around creativity, while reducing expenses, will lead to sustained growth and profitability for our streaming business, better position us to weather future disruption and global economic challenges, and deliver value for our shareholders,” Iger said in a statement ahead of the company’s earnings call.

Here are the results, compared with estimates from Refinitiv and StreetAccount:

  • Earnings per share: 99 cents per share, adj. vs 78 cents per share expected, according to a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $23.51 billion vs $23.37 billion expected, according to Refinitiv
  • Disney+ total subscriptions: 161.1 million expected, according to StreetAccount

Iger’s return comes as legacy media companies contend with a rapidly shifting landscape, as ad dollars dry up and consumers increasingly cut off their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming. Even the streaming space has been difficult to navigate in recent quarters, as expenses have swelled and consumers become more cost conscious about their media spending.

A recent price hike for Disney’s streaming services likely led to the loss of around 2.4 million Disney+ subscribers during the quarter. The company had been expected to lose more than 3 million, according to StreetAccount.

Additionally, as was forecast by Disney in previous quarters, its direct-to-consumer business has once again posted an operating loss. In the most recent quarter, the operating loss was $1.05 billion, narrower than the $1.2 billion Wall Street had predicted.

A bright spot for Disney came from its parks, experiences and products divisions, which saw a 21% increase in revenue to $8.7 billion during the most recent quarter.

A little more than $6 billion of that revenue came from its theme park locations. The company said guests spent more time and money during the quarter visiting its parks, hotels and cruises as well as on additive digital products like Genie+ and Lightning Lane.

Tune in to CNBC at 9 a.m. ET Thursday for an exclusive interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger.


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