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Photo: Disney

Disney's stock skyrocketed after market close Thursday when the company reported better-than-expected subscriber additions for its streaming service Disney+, offsetting losses in the company's studios, parks and resorts divisions.

Yes, but: Revenue fell 23% from this time last year to $14.7 billion and the company's profits disappeared. Still, the losses weren't as bad as investors anticipated and the company saw a boost from some successes in the reopening of sports and engagement in its broadcast network, ABC, around the election.

Why it matters: Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Disney+. The company kicked off the direct-to-consumer service to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. At the time, Disney couldn't have imagined that the service would keep the company from financial collapse amid the pandemic.

Details: At of the end of the quarter on Oct. 30, Disney reported that Disney+ had more than 73 million subscribers. At its launch last November the company said its goal was to reach 60 million-90 million paid subscriptions by 2024.

  • "It has quickly exceeded our highest expectations," said Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
  • Disney+ is now available in more than 20 markets. On Tuesday, it will launch in Latin America, including Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
  • Disney+ will expand to more overseas markets in the coming year, Chapek said, and the company plans to launch a direct-to-consumer general entertainment offering via its Indian network which it got in 2019 via its Fox acquisition.
  • Chapek said there's more room to grow its subscription business.

Be smart: Disney, like many of its entertainment rivals, reorganized its media and entertainment business around streaming this October.

  • Chapek said the new structure, which separates content creation from distribution, better aligns the company toward streaming.

The big picture: Disney, like many companies in the travel and tourism industry, said it was "very encouraged" by news earlier this week of progress around a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • While the company's parks and resorts abroad in places like China and at home in Florida have now reopened with new safety measures, its Disneyland Park and resort in California remains closed.
  • Chapek noted that the company is "extremely disappointed [the] state of California continues to keep Disneyland closed."
  • He pointed to the company's track record of reopenings globally, as well as its work facilitating safe NBA games through its Disney World "bubble," as examples that the company can and should be able to reopen safety.
  • Still, Chapek says production has begun to ramp up. "We now have more than 100 scripted projects in live production," he said."
  • He anticipates Disneyland will remain closed until the end of the fiscal first quarter, or Dec. 31 and expects theatrical results to be down significantly unpaired to this time last year.

What's next: Disney will provide an update on global subscriber numbers at its annual investment conference on Dec. 10. The company says it now has more than 120 million paid subscribers worldwide for its bundled streaming package, which includes Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

The Daily Wire is profitable, and eyeing entertainment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Daily Wire, a conservative media brand known for its prolific Facebook presence and popular podcast "The Ben Shapiro show," is moving into entertainment, its CEO and co-founder Jeremy Boreing tells Axios.

Why it matters: The company, which is profitable and grossed $65 million in revenue last year, wants to differentiate itself from other conservative subscription media brands by focusing mostly on entertainment, rather than political commentary.

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani steps including a UN-facilitated summit to revive stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Afghanistan's TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Blinken expresses concern in the letter, also obtained by Western news outlets, of a potential "spring offensive by the Taliban" and that the "security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid.

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.