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BURBANK (dpa-AFX) – The Corona crisis continues to weigh heavily on Walt Disney, but the streaming business is booming and the entertainment giant is back in the black. In the three months to the end of December, Disney made a profit of 29 million dollars (24 million euros), as the US entertainment group announced on Thursday after the US market closed. While this is a 99 percent year-over-year decrease, it has exceeded expectations. There had always been high losses in the previous quarters because the pandemic paralyzed large parts of the Disney empire.
The big success story for the Hollywood giant remains the streaming business for the online video service Disney + in the Corona crisis. In the past quarter, the Netflix rival, launched in November 2019, gained over 21 million subscription customers – at the beginning of January there were already 95 million paying users. Market leader Netflix had almost 204 million recently, but has been around for much longer and is represented in many more countries. In addition, limited-time specials were expiring on a large scale at Disney +, which makes the strong growth all the more impressive.
The quarterly figures were well received by investors, and the share reacted with considerable price gains at times. The proceeds fell compared to the same period last year by 22 percent to 16.2 billion dollars. Disney’s amusement parks, holiday resorts and cruises – reliable profit makers in normal times – were crippled by the pandemic and suffered a 53 percent drop in sales. Disney estimated the special charges for the division caused by the Corona crisis at an immense 2.6 billion dollars for the past quarter alone.
Despite the streaming boom, there was also a five percent decline in sales in the TV and film sectors. The other online services are also flourishing – in addition to Disney +, the group also operates Hulu and an Internet edition of the sports channel ESPN. According to its own information, Disney recently had more than 146 million paying customers across all streaming offers. But the division also includes Hollywood studios and the classic cable business, where considerable compromises have to be made in the Corona crisis. Even so, the division’s operating profit declined by two percent to $ 1.5 billion./hbr/DP/he