Disney Revenue Increases 23% To $19.2B, In Snub To DeSantis

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Disney has recently faced criticism — to put it mildly — from certain conservatives. In Florida, after the company expressed opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law signed by GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican state officials passed a measure to revoke the special governance set-up Disney has benefited from for decades. Now, though: Disney has announced markedly positive trends for its business across the first quarter of this year. Disney+, their streaming service, grew dramatically, and company revenue also shot up.

Disney revealed Wednesday that Disney+ saw the addition of 7.9 million subscribers in the first quarter, meaning the service hit a total of 138 million subscribers throughout the world. And as summarized by The New York Times, “Revenue at Disney increased 23 percent compared with last year, to $19.2 billion, but missed analyst expectations.” Disney indicated that the somewhat lower-than-expected revenue levels could be tied, at least in part, to the company’s prioritization of putting its content on its own services, which meant the company lost out on potential revenue from various licensing deals. As for more specific numbers, revenue in the company’s theme parks division — obviously a relatively high-profile part of its offerings — “doubled compared with the same period last year,” the Times also summarizes. In theory, that division could be closest to the front lines of the rhetorical battle DeSantis is waging, since the company operates Disney World in the Orlando area. But evidently, they’re doing fine.

And just to really drive in that last point: per Disney CFO Christine McCarthy, there were multiple days last quarter when attendance at Disney World and Disneyland (the company’s California theme park) was higher than attendance for the same timeframe in 2019 — prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously. (It’s not immediately clear whether those high attendance days at the respective theme parks coincided.) Disney’s success in the streaming field strikingly contrasts with recent woes at Netflix, which reported it lost 200,000 subscribers across the first three months of this year and believed it would lose millions more. In other words, conservative outrage doesn’t seem to be substantively affecting the ability of Disney to be profitable, so far. It’s worth noting, of course, that it’s ridiculous for Republican leaders to be so concerned with Disney to the point of moves like targeting the set-up that allows Disney to partly govern itself in the Orlando area. Challenging the company distracts from real-world issues faced by these attention-hungry politicians’ constituents.