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Disney Tops Q4 Estimates as Disney+ Surpasses 73M Paid Subs

Disney swung to a loss year-over-year, but was able to beat top- and  bottom-line estimates with the help of its streaming services.

Shares of Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report jumped after-hours Thursday after the media conglomerate reported fourth-quarter results that topped analyst expectations, showing strong growth in its streaming businesses. 

Disney reported revenue of $14.71 billion with an adjusted net loss of 20 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $14.28 billion with a net loss of 71 cents per share. 

The company's direct-to-consumer and international revenues jumped 41% year-over-year to $4.9 billion.

“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,” said CEO Bob Chapek in a statement. “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company."

Disney shares jumped 5.3% to $142.70 after hours on Thursday. 

Disney+, which launched one year ago today, had 73.7 million paid subscribers in the quarter, while Hulu saw paid subscribers jump 28% year-over-year to 36.6 million and ESPN+ subscriptions rose from 3.5 million to 10.3 million. 

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Analysts were expecting Disney+ subscriptions of 65.5 million and ESPN+ subscribers of 9.19 million. 

Overall, media networks revenue was $7.2 billion vs. estimates of $6.83 billion. 

When it first launched Disney+, Disney stated that its goal was for it to reach 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. Subscriber growth for Disney +has been impressive, however, with 10 million people signing up within the fist day, 33.5 million after the first quarter and 57.5 million by the third quarter, although some of those subscribers received Disney+ as part of one-time promotions or bundles. So it will be revealing to see how many subscribers continue on as customers once those promotions end.

The expected weak spot of Disney's theme parks division saw revenue fall 61% year-over-year to $2.6 billion as coronavirus lockdown procedures have taken their toll on one of the company's most profitable divisions. 

Earlier this month, Disney's sports-media arm, ESPN, said that it was cutting 300 staffers and eliminating another 200 positions as part of a restructuring.

ESPN employs about 4,000 people at its headquarters in Bristol, Conn., with another 2,500 staffers spread worldwide. This is the fifth round of layoffs ESPN has conducted since 2013, Sportico reported. 

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