INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Disney said Thursday its streaming services have grown to 146 million subscribers, as people hunkered down due to the pandemic have turned to sources of online entertainment.
The growth of the audience for Disney+, Hulu, ESPN and India's Hotstar comes as the parent company's travel and amusement park business suffered, and shows the entertainment giant is gaining ground on leading streaming service Netflix's 203 million subscribers.
"We're confident that, with our robust pipeline of exceptional, high-quality content and the upcoming launch of our new Star-branded international general entertainment offering, we are well-positioned to achieve even greater success going forward," Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said in an earnings release.
The growth of Disney's streaming services, with the bulk of the audience made up of the 95 million subscribers who joined Disney+ since it launched about a year ago, trounced expectations.
"Disney+ has been a massive success and is a testament to Disney's brand equity and expertise in storytelling," said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom.
"This has been one of the most successful consumer product launches in recent memory."
The analyst expected Disney streaming services to continue growing, and that its parks, television and movie businesses will recover quickly as Covid-19 vaccines are administered and pent-up demand is unleashed.
The pandemic hit Disney's parks and experiences unit hardest, with the company's resorts closed or operating at reduced capacity, and its cruise ships idle, according to executives.
Revenue in that unit plunged more than 50 percent, according to the earnings report.
Disney also did not release any new films to theaters in the quarter.
Disney shares were up slightly in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.