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Disney CEO Talks Theme Park Reopenings, Disney+, ESPN In CNBC Interview

Disney CEO Talks Theme Park Reopenings, Disney+, ESPN In CNBC Interview

Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) CEO Bob Chapek was a guest on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" to offer an update on its Shanghai property.

Shanghai A 'Baby Step'

Disney re-opened its theme park in Shanghai over the weekend, and the facility is a "short book market" where the majority of tickets for any given week are typically sold in the same week, Chapek said. While the reopening process in China amounts to a "baby step," Disney is still encouraged by what it is seeing so far, the CEO said. 

Disney will continue taking a careful approach toward increasing its attendance capacity above the current 30% so long as it can be managed responsibly, he said.

The likelihood of the park returning to 100% capacity depends on how the guests act in maintaining social distancing, Chapek said 

The same concept will be held worldwide but it is understood across the globe the COVID-19 pandemic is a "serious matter," he said.

"We are going to do our part and we need our guests to do their part too," Chapek said.

Disney's Worldwide Timeline

Disney won't offer any specific date for other re-openings across the world, as it would depend mostly on guidance and guidelines from all levels of governments, health care professions and even the capacity of local hospitals, the CEO said.

The company confirmed a re-opening of Disney Springs in Orlando, and Chapek said this could hopefully prove to be "the beginning of a great new rebirth of Disney parks."

Asking guests at Disney's domestic parks to wear masks might be a required precondition for entry, despite this being "culturally different," he said. 

Disney's Movie Business

Movie theaters could benefit from the large pent-up demand and this form of entertainment poses similar challenges and opportunities compared to theme parks. But on a typical movie viewing during the week, a theater is operating at around 25% capacity, Chapek said. As such, theaters are more likely to be able to manage with a 25% capacity rule for weekend showings.

Instead of waiting for a theatrical release, Disney decided to launch "Artemis Fowl" on its streaming platform Disney+ instead, the CEO said.

This may not prove to be the norm moving forward, as Disney "believes in the theatrical experience," especially for blockbuster titles, he said. 

Certain films could be better suited by a debut on Disney+, but the decision to do so would be done on a case-by-case basis, Chapek said. 

Disney+ Years Ahead Of Schedule

Disney+ boasts 54.5 million subscribers, which suggests it is well within striking distance of its 2024 guidance of 60 million to 90 million users, the CEO said.

Disney has no plans to revise its timeline or guidance despite not having completed a global launch of the platform.

ESPN Viewership Up In April

Despite the absence of live sports, primetime ESPN viewership in April across the male 18-49 group was up 11%, Chapek said. This supports the "wealth of assets" at ESPN and shows the company "found a way" to remain relevant, the CEO said. 

"I think we will be resilient," he said.

There are "countless" discussions among many professional sports leagues pertaining to a new season, Chapek said adding that while nothing yet can be confirmed, ESPN is "working very, very closely" with its partners to make sure live sports are brought back to ESPN.

Disney shares were down 1.27% at $107.77 at the close Monday. 

Related Links:

Disney's Business Hit Hard By The Coronavirus: Is Now A Buying Opportunity For The Stock?

Disney Reports Mixed Q2 Earnings: Parks Down 10%, 33.5M Disney+ Subscribers


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