Chapek Breaks Silence and Talks Overall Strategy

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Galaxy's Edge crowds

Bob Chapek inside Millennium Falcon attraction. Credit: New York Times/Brooks Barnes

In the recent Walt Disney Company’s Fiscal Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results Conference Call, we finally heard from Bob Chapek, current CEO of the Walt Disney Company. 

During the call, he shared an overview of the company’s current status, challenges, and continued efforts to overcome the unprecedented challenge the pandemic has brought upon the entertainment conglomerate.

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Chapek opened his portion of the call thanking all the essential workers and Disney’s own employees for the amazing work they have continued to accomplish during the crisis. He highlighted employees from ESPN, ABC, Global security personnel, and all key staff maintaining parks and resorts.

“We could not be more proud”, Chapek stated. 

Chapek listed all the areas the company has been hit including its theme parks globally, Disney Cruise Line, and the halting of TV and Film productions.

The disruption to the company has been severe. Chapek added that there is no telling when they will be able to reopen the theme parks, cruise ships, resorts, and retail stores. Later in the call, he stated cruise lines would be the last of their travel businesses to reopen.

“We are evaluating different scenarios to ensure caution and a sensible approach to the reopening of our parks” Chapek added.

Disney Parks

Disney Parks have been closed for months. Shanghai Disneyland since January, Tokyo Disneyland since February, and the US Disney Parks, Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort since mid-March.

Shanghai Disney Resort simulates Reopening

Some of the added health measures Chapek listed they are considering for a safe reopening include guest capacity density measures, such as social distancing, health screenings, and following any set state and federal guidelines.

With the success of the phased reopening of retail and food and beverage locations in Shanghai, the company has made the decision to re-open Shanghai Disneyland May 11th. 

When asked how they planned to address the crowd control questions to ensure social distancing, Chapek shared that in terms of the continued plans going forward, one way Shanghai will address this, is through dated tickets. He added this was not to say that this will be the same domestically.

Chapek added in terms of guest numbers, 80,000 a day is Shanghai’s average. The government says 30%, 24,000 a day. They will open far below that for training wheel purposes.

Chapek raved about the wins the company has seen with ESPN.

ESPN stepped up in the absence of live sports, finding innovative ways [to deliver content] that fans want. Releasing two months early the Michael Jordan docuseries early, which will continue through May 17. It is the most viewed documentary ever. 
ESPN also took an engaging live event and turned it into a virtual one — NFL Live Draft. With a record-breaking 55 million+ viewers over a 3 day event. – Bob Chapek


Chapek also noted that the impact of these two events proved ESPN prime time audience an increase of 11%. Looking ahead, the 2020 ESPYs will be aired virtually and sports will come back strong.

Disney’s Direct to Consumer Product

On Disney’s direct to consumer product, Chapek highlighted the success the company has had with Disney+ and the original content they have been putting out.

“The response to Diney+ has exceeded our highest expectations”

The streaming platform continues to expand to other markets, with over 50 Million subscribers globally. Chapek noted the success of programming such as fan-favorite The Mandalorian and coming soon, the NatGeo fall premiere of The Right Stuff.

Before he wrapped up his time on the call, Chapek noted the challenging decision to furlough so many company employees.

            “We are fully committed to getting our employees back to work.” – Bob Chapek

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