Settle In, Disney's Next Act Is About to Begin


2019/05/09 13:18

In the movie of Walt Disney Co.’s dramatic journey to become a full-fledged streaming company, last quarter wasn’t even the opening previews. It was the time when investors were merely buttering their popcorn.


Disney on Wednesday reported revenue and earnings per share for the three months through March that exceeded analysts’ estimates, as ESPN reaped higher fees from cable-TV providers and guests of the company’s theme parks and resorts spent more money during their stays.


The Good Old Days


Disney's theme parks and streaming divisions saw the biggest growth last quarter, but its profits are still dependent on traditional pay TV


The results were upbeat, but at the same time they do little to distill Disney’s current state of affairs. That’s because they cover a period of time that doesn’t include the three game-changing events of its year – perhaps its lifetime:

尽管数据不错,但还没有反映出迪士尼真正的实力:这份数据取自今年的三大利好 - 或许说是迄今为止出现的三个最大利好 - 发生之前。

  • the record-crushing release of “Avengers: Endgame” in April,
  • 四月份“复仇者联盟:终局”的破纪录发布,
  • the openings of its Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge destinations at Disneyland this month and Disney World in August, and
  • 迪斯尼的两座星战主题乐园 - 星球大战:银河边缘 - 预计在本月和今年八月开放,
  • the coming launch of the Disney+ streaming app on Nov. 12, the product at the center of CEO Bob Iger’s vision for the future of Disney. 
  • 即将于11月12日推出的Disney+流媒体应用程序,该产品是首席执行官Bob Iger对迪士尼未来规划的核心。

Even Iger’s prepared comments in the earnings release glossed over the latest quarter and instead focused on what’s to come:


We’re very pleased with our Q2 results and thrilled with the record-breaking success of “Avengers: Endgame,” which is now the second-highest grossing film of all time and will stream exclusively on Disney+ starting December 11th.


In the less than two weeks that “Avengers: Endgame” has been playing in theaters, ticket sales have already surpassed $2.27 billion globally. That’s just a few hundred million dollars away from leapfrogging “Avatar” as the biggest film of all time. It’s also the centerpiece of an extraordinary slate from Disney this year, with “Aladdin” and “Toy Story: 4” hitting the box office in just a few weeks, followed by “The Lion King,” “Artemis Fowl” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Then, “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will take fans through the holiday season.

在过去两周的时间里,“复仇者联盟:终局”一直在剧院上演,全球票房已超过22.7亿美元。距离超越“阿凡达”这一有史以来最卖座的电影仅差几亿美元。它也是迪士尼今年规划的核心拼图,而在计划中的影片还有将在未来几周内继续冲击票房 的“阿拉丁”和“玩具总动员4”,接着是“狮子王”,“阿特米斯的奇幻历险”以及“沉睡魔咒2”。当然,还有“冰雪奇缘2”和“星球大战9:天行者崛起”将伴随粉丝度过假期。

It’s such a feat that I’ve questioned whether Disney is setting a bar it may not reach again, or at least not for a long time. The company said this week that the release of “Avatar 2” – a franchise it now owns thanks to the acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film assets – has been delayed until the end of 2021. And after “The Rise of Skywalker,” its next “Star Wars” movie isn’t until December 2022. The sparser schedule of blockbusters aside, Disney is also putting all of its new films on Disney+ instead of licensing them for big bucks to Netflix Inc. and others.


It’s just one example of how Disney’s bet on streaming will hurt other lines of revenue in the coming years, shortfalls that Disney+ won’t be able to offset until its subscriber count reaches mass and turns profitable. By the company’s own projection, Disney+ won’t start making money until 2024. Last quarter, the newly formed direct-to-consumer and international division lost $393 million, reflecting the cost of investing in Disney+ and ESPN+, as well as Hulu continuing to bleed money.

上述这些只是迪士尼在流媒体上的豪赌如何损害其他部门未来几年利益的例子之一,Disney+在其订户数量达到一定规模并且开始盈利之前无法弥平这些损失。根据公司自己的预测,迪士尼+将在2024年之前都不会开始赚钱。上个季度,新成立的消费者直接对接及国际部门损失了3.93亿美元,包括了投资Disney+和ESPN +的成本,更别提持续亏损的Hulu视频网了。

No Pain, No Gain?


MoffettNathanson analysts see the unit that houses Disney's streaming apps losing nearly $5 billion next year, dragged down primarily by Disney+ and Hulu


Adding to the effects Disney’s shift will have on its financial results, there’s also the potential impact on culture and morale. The businesses that have long been core to Disney may instead start to function more like veins supplying content and resources to the new heart of the company: digital-video apps. While the Disney team sorts through this new process, it’s also working to integrate the assets and employees that came from its $85 billion Fox deal, which closed in March. (Fox Corp. reported its own results after the close of trading on Wednesday, its first time doing so as a slimmed-down entity focused entirely on news and sports. )


Disney’s latest period was good, yet relatively insignificant given all the changes afoot. But take your seats, because the feature presentation will soon begin.


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