Disney+ is up to nearly 74 million subscribers

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The streaming service netted nearly 74 million subscribers by the end of the quarter, surpassing estimates and giving Wall Street a rare reason to cheer the struggling media company.

Disney’s (DIS) stock was up as much as 5% in after-hours trading.

The streaming platform was one of the only bright signs for Disney. For its fiscal year, which ended in October, Disney was hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney’s revenue came in at $65.3 billion, which was down 6% from last year. Disney swung to a loss of $2.8 billion in the fiscal year. That marked a sharp reversal from the previous year, when Disney hauled in $10.4 billion in profits.

“Even with the disruption caused by COVID-19, we’ve been able to effectively manage our businesses while also taking bold, deliberate steps to position our company for greater long-term growth,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, said in a statement on Thursday. “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company.”

Disney+, which celebrates its first anniversary on Thursday, has been a lifeboat for Disney in a terrible year.

The company has seen it parks close for months before reopening to new health guidelines and limited capacities while its blockbuster studio unit has had to push films into next year.

Yet, Disney+ has not slowed down, and Disney is making sure that the company continues to invest in streaming.

Disney+ was the future. Now it's Disney's present

Disney on Thursday announced that it “will not declare a semi-annual cash dividend for the second half of fiscal 2020.” This was due to the “ongoing impact of COVID-19” but also so to “prioritize investment in its direct-to-consumer initiatives.”

This follows Dan Loeb, the chief of hedge fund Third Point, writing a letter to Chapek last month calling on the company to permanently suspend its $3 billion in annual dividend payments.

Loeb urged Disney to pump more money into its streaming service by shifting cash away from its shareholders. On Thursday it appears that Disney did just that.

Away from Disney+’s growth, Disney’s parks were also in the spotlight.

The division has been hit harder than any other unit in Disney’s media empire leading to massive layoffs.

“The most significant adverse impact in the current quarter and year from COVID-19 was approximately $2.4 billion and $6.9 billion, respectively, on operating income at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment due to revenue lost as a result of the closures or reduced operating capacities,” Disney said on Thursday.

And the news wasn’t any better for the parks and resorts division on Thursday.

Disney announced that Disneyland, the company’s flagship park in California which has been closed since March, will stay shuttered at least through the end of the fiscal first quarter of 2021, which is the end of December.

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