LOS ANGELES — Disney is expected to report mixed quarterly results on Tuesday, with per-share profit estimated to decline by about 20 percent and revenue climb by 36 percent. Costs associated with building its Disney Plus streaming service will occupy much of the gap.
But all that investors and Disney’s Hollywood competitors will be looking for is one number: Disney Plus subscribers.
Disney unveiled its streaming platform on Nov. 12 amid a thundering marketing campaign and found immediate success with “The Mandalorian,” a live-action “Star Wars” series that introduced a blockbuster character known as Baby Yoda. Initial interest in Disney Plus was bigger than even Disney anticipated, resulting in login problems. Within a day of its introduction, Disney Plus had 10 million subscribers, including an unspecified number of accounts that signed up for free under a promotion with Verizon.
Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, is expected to update that figure during a post-earnings conference call on Tuesday with analysts. Anything less than 20 million subscribers will be a disappointment to Wall Street, according to multiple analysts. Some analysts think that Disney Plus, which costs $7 a month for those paying the sticker price, could have closer to 25 million.
Mr. Iger will be peppered with questions. How many subscribers are getting a discount? What have cancellations been like now that “The Mandalorian” has finished its first season? Exactly when will Marvel’s slate of original shows arrive?
Another focus of the call will almost assuredly be the coronavirus outbreak in China that has sickened more than 20,000 people in the country and killed at least 425. As a result, the Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Park have been closed for more than a week. Michael Morris, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, said in a note last week that the closures would have a “significant” impact on Disney’s sprawling theme park division, which includes outposts in Tokyo, Paris and Orlando, Fla.
“Prolonged closures and a slow return of attendance at both Shanghai and Hong Kong for the balance of the year will result in revenue declines of 75 percent, 50 percent and 30 percent over the next three quarters,” Mr. Morris said.
Investors on Tuesday will be looking to see what Mr. Iger plans to do if the virus outbreak spreads further in the United States, which has 11 confirmed cases so far.