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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Disney's stock skyrocketed Thursday after the company reported a whopping 73.7 million paid Disney+ subscriber additions in its first year — a number that beat even its own ambitious streaming goals.

Why it matters: The fortuitous timing of the launch of Disney+ a year ago has saved the entertainment giant from economic disaster amid the coronavirus. And it's not alone.

  • The pandemic has wreaked havoc on Disney's movie studio business, cable networks and its parks and resorts division.
Data: Company filings; Note: HBO Max numbers include only the number of paid subscribers that have activated their HBO Max app subscriptions. Many more people  pay for HBO via their cable subscriptions, but have yet to activate the HBO Max app that comes with their cable subscription; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

AT&T also said it beat its media subscriber goals for last quarter. The company now has 38 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers combined, surpassing its year-end target of 36 million.

  • Of those, 8.6 million people have activated their HBO Max subscriptions, meaning they've downloaded the app and logged in.
  • In total, 28.7 million customers were eligible to get HBO Max at the end of the last quarter, although not all activated those subscriptions. Those people mostly pay for HBO via their cable subscriptions.
  • Like Disney, AT&T's Warner Bros. studios division has suffered amid the closure of theaters across the U.S. Its DIRECTV satellite division continued to lose subscribers as more people cut the cord for cheaper streaming alternatives.

Comcast reported its best quarter in history for broadband signups last quarter, thanks in large part to the fact that more people are at home streaming TV and using the internet.

  • The telecom giant, which is also suffering from hits to its studios, parks and resorts business, said NBCUniversal’s Peacock now has nearly 22 million sign-ups, although it didn't specify how many were paid subscribers that don't get the service for free with cable subscriptions.

The big picture: Almost all of the major entertainment giants reorganized their TV and film divisions last quarter around streaming.

  • Those efforts marked the biggest acknowledgment from legacy entertainment behemoths that streaming is the future.
  • Prior to the pandemic, traditional film and television distribution through cable, satellite and movie theaters was lucrative enough for companies to consider those channels their primary revenue vehicles for at least the next few years.

What's next: While most entertainment analysts think theater-going, content production and live sports will one-day return to more previously strong levels, the fate of those activities relies heavily on the development of a vaccine. And even with a vaccine, it's unclear whether some activities, like theater-going, will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.

Go deeper

Latest James Bond movie release delayed for third time

An advertisement poster featuring Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie "No Time to Die" in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

The release of the latest James Bond film, "No Time to Die," has been postponed for the third time as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate Hollywood.

The state of play: The film's release, initially scheduled for April 2020, was first postponed to November 2020, and then to April 2021. MGM said this week that movie's global debut will now be delayed until Oct. 8.

NBCUniversal to shut down its sports cable network

The NBC Sports car sits on pit lane before the start of a race at the Kentucky Speedway. Photo: Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Comcast's NBCUniversal will shut down its sports cable channel, NBCSN, at the end of the year and move some of its premium programming, including NHL playoff games and NASCAR races, to its USA Network, Axios confirmed Friday.

Driving the news: The company is "hoping to solve two problems with one move: Get rid of an underperforming asset and boost an already powerful one," noted the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

29 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.