The Walt Disney Company reported a record annual profit on $12.6 billion for its fiscal year on Thursday, but financial analysts’ attention was mostly on its new streaming service, Disney+, set to launch next fall.
The blockbuster 2018 was driven by a string of hit Disney films. By releasing five of the 10 highest-grossing movies of 2018, including “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “The Incredibles 2,” the studio-entertainment division reported a 27 percent increase in operating income from the previous year.
The company’s parks and resorts division also saw major financial gains. Operating income was up 18 percent over last year, largely due to higher attendance — and higher prices — at its U.S. parks.
“We’re very pleased with our financial performance in fiscal 2018, delivering record revenue, net income and earnings per share,” said Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger. “We remain focused on the successful completion and integration of our 21st Century Fox acquisition and the further development of our direct-to-consumer business, including the highly anticipated launch of our Disney-branded streaming service late next year.”
On the call, Iger revealed the name for the new service: Disney+. Part of Disney’s new focus on streaming with the recently-launched ESPN Plus and taking a majority stake in Hulu, Disney+ will feature a variety of original content. Along with the already announced live-action “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” a series based off Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” and a relaunch of the 2000s tween hit “High School Musical,” Iger mentioned numerous other series and movies in development, including:
- Another “Star Wars” live action series serving as a prequel to “Rogue One,” with Diego Luna reprising his role as Rebel Alliance spy Cassian Andor
- A Marvel series with Tom Hiddleston returning to the role of Loki
- A live-action version of the Disney animated film “Lady and the Tramp”
- “Noelle,” starring Anna Kendrick as Santa’s daughter
- “Togo,” an adventure film starring Willem Dafoe
- Several documentary series, including one focused on Walt Disney Imagineering
- National Geographic content, as Disney will own the brand after finishing its $71 billion acquisition of Fox
All new Disney theatrical releases starting with its 2019 films will be added to the service a few months after leaving theaters.
Iger told financial analysts that the app will break down content by Disney brands, such as the classic Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and the newly acquired National Geographic. He added that he expects to show up off the app and some of its content at a Disney investor conference in April 2019.
When one analyst asked what Disney+ means for the company’s traditional TV channels — namely, The Disney Channel — Iger said he isn’t aiming to “de-prioritize them or sacrifice them” as the company moves into the streaming realm.
“We’re looking at the marketplace, we’re seeing disruption and we are reacting to it, hopefully, on a timely basis, so that we can take advantage of the trends that we’re all seeing today in television,” he said.