Disney brings back some magic with better-than-expected streaming results

Disney+ regained some of its magic on Wednesday with a subscriber count that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

The streaming service now has 129.8 million subscribers, a gain of nearly 12 million in the company’s first fiscal quarter. Those results beat expectations and were a rebound for the media company after a slow fourth quarter in which Disney+ gained just 2 million subscribers. The positive results sent shares up as much as 9% in after-hours trading.
Overall, Disney (DIS) brought in $21.8 billion in revenue in the quarter, up 34% from the same period a year ago. As for earnings, the company reported $1.1 billion in the first quarter, up more than 100% from last year.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in the company’s letter to investors Wednesday that the company had “a very strong start to the fiscal year” and highlighted the success of its streaming efforts and “record revenue and operating income in our national parks and resorts.

This marks the final year of The Walt Disney Company’s first century, and a performance like this, coupled with our unmatched collection of assets and platforms, creative capabilities and unique place in culture, gives me great confidence that we will continue to define entertainment for the next 100 years,” added Chapek.

The results eased investor concerns that Disney+’s growth was slowing, at least for now. The company’s November earnings report had shown lackluster results. Then last month, shares of Netflix, the industry leader in streaming, plunged on weak subscriber guidance. On Wednesday, however, concerns about Disney’s streaming unit, which includes Hulu and ESPN+, were a distant memory.

Disney+ got a boost in the first quarter as it streamed a lot of popular content. There was “Hawkeye,” Marvel’s new series about the avenging archer, and “The Beatles: Get Back,” an eight-hour documentary that focused on the band’s recording sessions for their latest album. It was directed and produced by Peter Jackson, who previously directed and produced the mega-hit “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies.