How the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the media business, from theme park closures at Disney to production halts at Netflix

FILE PHOTO: Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, speaks during the 10th anniversary ceremony of Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong, China September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

  • Media companies, along with the rest of the economy, are being strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Business Insider breaks down the biggest impact to media businesses so far, including the closures of Disney’s parks around the world and the companies most threatened by the spread of the virus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

TV and film productions are being put on hold, major sporting events are being canceled or postponed, and theme parks are closing their gates as businesses and governments try to slow the spread of the coronavirus globally.

The media industry, along with the rest of the economy, is being strained by the pandemic.

The companies most exposed to the threat are those that generate significant shares of their revenue from theme parks, the box office, or advertising — all of which could be threatened by the coronavirus outbreak or a broader economic downturn.

Wall Street firm UBS forecasted earlier this week that Disney was the media company most threatened by the spread of coronavirus, followed by Discovery, Fox, ViacomCBS, and AMC Networks.

See the breakdown: Analysts say Disney and Discovery are the media giants most threatened by the coronavirus, but Comcast could fare better

New Disney CEO Bob Chapek is already being tested as a leader. The company is being forced to temporarily shutter its parks globally and push theatrical releases and productions. UBS estimated Disney could lose more than $2 billion in revenue if its parks close for 30 days. 

The company’s cable networks, including ESPN, could also be hurt by the canceled sporting events, though analysts say it’s too soon to estimate how much.

Read more: Analysts lay out the financial damage each of Disney’s businesses could face, as it closes parks and postpones films due to the coronavirus 

Netflix, meanwhile, is expected to benefit from the social distancing that’s being encouraged by governments around the world. More time at home could mean more opportunities to stream Netflix. 

But there could be downsides for Netflix’s business as well.

The streaming company is counting on a boost in subscribers and revenue from international markets this year, including regions like Europe and Asia that are among the worst hit by the pandemic, analysts at Needham said. People in those areas may be less incentivized to subscribe to Netflix if they’re worried about their next paychecks.

Read the full story: Why Netflix’s business could take a hit from the coronavirus, despite reports that ‘stay at home’ stocks could benefit

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