The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is a diversified global entertainment company that operates theme parks, resorts, a cruise line, broadcast TV networks, and related products. The company also produces live entertainment events, and produces and streams a broad array of film and TV entertainment content through its new digital-content streaming services.

Disney faces an unusually large number of competitors including: ViacomCBS Inc. (VIAC), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Sony Corp. (SNE), AT&T Inc. (T), Netflix Inc. (NFLX), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN); and smaller niche rivals including theme park and resort companies Six Flags Entertainment Corp. (SIX), SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (SEAS), and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT).

Key Takeaways

  • Disney is a diversified global entertainment company that operates theme parks, resorts, broadcast networks and streams TV shows and movies.
  • Disney's Media Networks currently generates the most revenue and profits as its Parks, Experiences and Products business has been hit hard by COVID-19.
  • Most of Disney's theme parks and resorts were closed for a significant portion of the year due to the pandemic.
  • Disney plans to lay off about 32,000 employees by the end of the first half of FY 2021 due to the adverse impacts of the pandemic.
  • Paid subscribers of Disney+ have risen to 73.7 million since the streaming service was first launched in November 2019.

Disney’s Financials

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Disney's recent financial results. The company posted a net loss of $2.5 billion in its 2020 fiscal year (FY), which ended October 3, 2020. It was a significant change from the $11.6 billion in net income reported for FY 2019. Revenue for the year fell 6.1% to $65.4 billion.

Disney said that the adverse impact of the pandemic was mostly felt in its Parks, Experiences and Products segment. Most of the company's theme parks and resorts were closed or operating at significantly reduced capacity for a significant portion of the year, while cruise ship sailings and guided tours were suspended. Disney's merchandise licensing business and advertising sales were also negatively impacted, and the company has had to delay, shorten, or cancel theatrical releases and stage play performances.

Disney’s Business Segments

Disney operates through four primary business segments: Media Networks; Parks, Experiences and Products; Studio Entertainment; and Direct-to-Consumer & International. The company breaks out revenue and operating income for each segment. The pie charts above do not include segments with operating losses, such as Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products and Direct-to-Consumer & International businesses.

Media Networks

Disney's Media Networks segment operates a long list of properties, including: cable networks such as Disney, ESPN, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic; ABC broadcast television network and eight domestic television stations; production and distribution; and a 50% equity investment in A+E Television Networks. The segment's revenue comes from affiliate fees, advertising, as well as the sale and distribution of television programs. The Media Networks segment posted revenue of $28.4 billion in FY 2020, up 14.4% compared to FY 2019. Operating income rose 20.6% to $9.0 billion. The segment accounts for about 40% of total revenue and 78% of total operating income.

Parks, Experiences and Products

Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products segment is comprised of theme parks and resorts in Florida, California, Hawaii, and Paris, as well as ownership interests in resorts in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It also includes a cruise line and vacation club. Revenue comes mainly from selling theme park admissions, food, beverages, various merchandise, resort and vacation stays, and royalties from licensing intellectual properties. The Parks, Experiences and Products segment reported revenue of $16.5 billion, or 23% of total revenue, in FY 2020. Revenue plunged 37.1% compared to FY 2019. The segment posted an operating loss of $81 million, a significant change from the $6.8 billion of operating income reported in FY 2019.

Studio Entertainment

Disney's Studio Entertainment segment is engaged in motion picture production and distribution through the Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Studios, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and other companies. The segment also produces and distributes live entertainment and music, among other activities. Revenue comes from the distribution of films, licensing of intellectual property for use in live entertainment production, and stage play ticket sales. Studio Entertainment posted revenue of $9.6 billion in FY 2020, down 13.4% compared to FY 2019. Operating income fell 6.9% to $2.5 billion. The segment accounts for about 13% of Disney's total revenue and about 22% of its total operating income.

Direct-to-Consumer & International

Disney's Direct-to-Consumer & International segment includes branded international TV networks and channels such as Disney, ESPN, Fox, National Geographic, and Star; its new direct-to-consumer streaming service, named Disney+/Disney+Hotstar, as well as ESPN+ and Hulu. The segment's revenue includes advertising, affiliate fees, and subscription fees. Revenue for the segment was $17.0 billion in FY 2020, comprising about 24% of the total. Revenue grew 80.8% compared to FY 2019. The segment posted an operating loss of $2.8 billion, $1.0 billion larger than the operating loss reported in FY 2019.

A note to readers that the segment revenue and operating-income figures in the breakdowns above and in the pie charts do include inter-segment transactions.

Disney’s Recent Developments

In its annual financial report issued on November 25, 2020, Disney indicated that due to the impact of the pandemic, it plans to lay off about 32,000 employees by the end of the first half of FY 2021. Most of those employees work in the Parks, Experiences and Products segment.

Disney also indicated in its annual filing that Disney+ has reached 73.7 million paid subscribers as of October 3, 2020. The direct-to-consumer online streaming service was first launched in November 2019.

How Disney Reports Diversity & Inclusiveness

As part of our effort to improve the awareness of the importance of diversity in companies, we offer investors a glimpse into the transparency of Disney and its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. We examined the data Disney releases to show you how it reports the diversity of its board and workforce to help readers make educated purchasing and investing decisions.

Below is a table of potential diversity measurements. It shows whether Disney discloses its data about the diversity of its board of directors, C-Suite, general management, and employees overall, as is marked with a ✔. It also shows whether Disney breaks down those reports to reveal the diversity of itself by race, gender, ability, veteran status, and LGBTQ+ identity.

Disney Diversity & Inclusiveness Reporting
  Race Gender Ability Veteran Status Sexual Orientation
Board of Directors          
C-Suite          
General Management          
Employees ✔ (U.S. Only)