by Dawn Chmielewski and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, as higher attendance at its Shanghai and Hong Kong theme parks offset a decline in advertising revenue recorded by the television channel ABC.

The title of the entertainment giant rose more than 3% in after-hours trading.

Disney reported diluted earnings of 82 cents per share for the July-September period, compared with a consensus of 70 cents according to LSEG data.

Its quarterly revenue was $21.2 billion, in line with analysts’ expectations.

The group indicated that its Disney+ streaming platform recorded nearly 7 million new subscribers over the period, attracted by the third opus of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the original series “Star Wars: Ahsoka.”

“Our results for the quarter reflect the significant progress we have made over the past year,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said.

“While we still have work to do, these efforts allow us to move beyond this repair period and start building our business again,” he added in a statement.

Disney now claims to be on track to achieve $7.5 billion in savings over the year, as part of a vast cost reduction plan.

Over the July-September period, Disney reduced the loss of its streaming division, which also includes Hulu and ESPN+, to $387 million, compared to $1.47 billion a year earlier, thanks to higher prices and growing advertising revenue.

The group said this division is expected to become profitable by September 2024.

Now grouped in a division called Experiences, Disney theme parks, hotels, cruise ships and consumer products recorded an operating margin in the third quarter up 31% year-on-year to nearly 1.8 billion dollars.

Disney reported an operating profit of $236 million for its content and licensing division, which includes television and film sales, compared to a loss of $608 million a year ago.

(Reporting Dawn Chmielewski and Lisa Richwine; Jean Terzian)

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