Disney Partially Re-Opens Shanghai Resort

Looking to combat ongoing market concerns revolving around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Shanghai Disney Resort has partially re-opened select retail venues, while the main theme park remains shuttered since Jan. 25.

“We continue to closely monitor health and safety conditions and follow the direction of government regulators,” Shanghai Disney said in a statement.

The move comes as Wall Street trading was temporarily halted March 9 after markets opened falling significantly as global concerns about the spread of the virus increase.

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Indeed, visitors to the venues must wear masks, go through temperature screening and present their health QR code when entering dining facilities. It’s not clear how patrons will eat while wearing protective face masks.

Meanwhile Disneyland Paris, which employs 15,000 workers, remains open despite a maintenance worker, who was home in bed at the time, being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In the United States, Disney said it continues to “welcome guests” to its theme parks. In a statement, the company said it has upgraded sanitation efforts, including easier access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers, and “quick response” to spills, trash and other situations.

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“As part of our commitment to the health and well-being of our cast, guests and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance,” the said. “Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, are welcoming guests as usual and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies.”

 

Futuresource: Coronavirus to Cut Global CE Revenue 5% This Year

With ongoing global concern about the potential coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, new data from Futuresource Consulting suggests the consumer electronics market could see a 2% to 5% full-year drop in retail value worldwide.

Most consumer electronics products are manufactured in China, the epicenter for the coronavirus, which has seen manufacturing and consumer demand scuttled. The Chinese CE market accounted for 22% of the $1 trillion industry in 2019, according to Futuresource.

At the same time, Johns Hopkins University said more than 100,000 coronavirus cases have been reported globally with the vast majority of infections and deaths (3,015) occurring in China.

“Having already faced disruption in 2019 due to the Sino-American trade war, COVID-19 has further highlighted the risks associated with over-reliance on Chinese manufacturing,” London-based Futuresource said in a statement.

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The research firm said while the full effects of coronavirus remain to be seen,  short and long-term effects on consumer electronics and media entertainment industries will be significant.

Specifically, supply chain disruption to hardware vendors reliant on Chinese manufacturing will struggle, with delays in the supply chain leading to product delivery difficulties and poor Q1 fiscal performance that could extend into Q2.

Futuresource expects the second half of the year to offset the difficulties with pent-up consumer demand translating into seasonality as opposed to an overall yearly decline.

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Meanwhile, digital media platforms such as SVOD, AVOD and transactional are benefiting from the crisis, with digital video, music, and gaming all seeing spikes in engagement, according to Futuresource.

Retail trends toward e-commerce are also accelerating, while collaboration technology and software is also a beneficiary of the crisis. Besides being a short-term effect, this could have implications in the long run, as consumers are likely to continue engaging with these platforms after the virus is contained.

“In a very short time period, COVID-19 has had a disruptive impact on individuals, countries and major companies alike,” Futuresource wrote. “[We] will continue to monitor the progression of the outbreak and provide further updates as the situation develops.”

 

Why Have Netflix, Apple, Google, Facebook and Others Nixed Events? Local Government Asked Them To

With a growing list of media tech companies canceling appearances at the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and other public events due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the decision by Netflix, Apple, Google, Intel and Facebook, among others, was apparently inspired by local government.

The County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department this week updated its recommendations to “protect residents of the county” from the virus, saying local employers should refrain from exposing staff to “close contact with large numbers of people.”

Santa Clara County includes the cities of Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose — corporate homes to many of the aforementioned companies. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have offices in the county.

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With six new coronavirus cases confirmed in Santa Clara County, bringing to 20 the number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the area, the Public Health Department said it was taking proactive steps to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the number of people infected.

“We understand these recommendations will have a tremendous impact on the lives of people in our community,” the county said in a March 5 statement. “Public Health is making these recommendations in consultation with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on the best information we have at this time, to protect the public’s health. This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 … when such measures can potentially slow the spread of the disease.”

Specifically, the county said companies should suspend nonessential employee travel; minimize the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another, including minimizing or canceling large in-person meetings and conferences.

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It urged employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits, and not require a doctor’s note for employees that are sick as healthcare offices may be busy and unable to provide that documentation right away.

Companies should also consider the use of telecommuting options for appropriate employees, and stagger the start and end times for workers to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.

Earlier this week, Adobe canceled the live portion of the Adobe Summit 2020 confab — originally slated for March 29 to April 2 in Las Vegas — due to the virus. The 2019 event attracted 16,000 attendees and featured presentations by Reese Witherspoon and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, among others. The summit will continue this year as an online only event.

“Over the past few weeks, we have been closely monitoring and evaluating the situation around COVID-19 to ensure we are taking the necessary measures to protect the health and wellbeing of Adobe Summit attendees,” Adobe said in a statement. “As a result, we have made the difficult but important decision to make Adobe Summit 2020 an online event this year and to cancel the live event in Las Vegas.”

Google canceled its Cloud Next event in San Francisco, while Facebook nixed its F8 developers confab in San Jose.

Meanwhile, tickets for the Netflix Is a Joke Festival live stand-up comedy event across 20 venues, April 27 – May 3 in Los Angeles, went on sale March 4.

 

Amazon Studios Pulls Out of SXSW as Calls Grow to Cancel Annual Media Festival

Amazon Studios has become the latest media company to pull out of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival, March 13-22, in Austin, Texas.

Amazon joins Facebook, Twitter, Mashable, TikTok, Dell, Intel, China Gathering and other companies that are dropping out of SXSW over concerns of the coronavirus’ possible impact on company employees.

To date, more than 91,000 people globally have been infected with 3,100 deaths attributed to the disease. There are more than 100 confirmed cases in the United States, including nine deaths.

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Amazon, which just disclosed that an employee in its Seattle headquarters had contracted the COVID-19 virus, had planned to unveil several projects through its Prime Video unit, including a co-promotion with Entertainment Weekly.

“Due to health concerns Amazon Prime Video has decided to pull back from the festival and will be cancelling all activities, including the Blue Room Photo/Video Studio over the weekend and the Entertainment Weekly party on Sat evening,” the publication said in a statement. “We regret any inconvenience this may cause. The health of our team members and guests is our priority. Thank you for your understanding.”

Despite an online petition and calls from some, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, to cancel this year’s festival, organizers say the show will go on. Indeed, the show actually pushed-back with the March 2 announcement of new big-name speakers, including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

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In a statement on its website, organizers said they are working “closely on a daily basis” with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event.

“As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority,” SXSW said in a statement. “We hope that people follow the science, implement the recommendations of public health agencies, and continue to participate in the activities that make our world connected.”

In addition to festivals, Sony Pictures shuttered three offices in Europe (Paris, London and Gdynia, Poland) due to coronavirus concerns.

Microsoft canceled its “Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Summit,” slated for March 16 in Seattle. The Google I/O developers conference, May 12-14 in Mountain View, Calif., also has been canceled.

 

Disney Cancels Glitzy Euro Disney+ Launch Event Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Disney has canceled a high-profile media launch event for proprietary subscription streaming video platform Disney+ slated for March 5-6 in London due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus has reportedly infected more than 90,000 people and killed almost 3,000.

The move comes the same day Disney announced a distribution deal for its SVOD service with Comcast-owned Sky in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Due to a number of media attendee cancellations and increasing concerns at the prospect of traveling internationally at this time, we have decided to cancel our Disney+ launch events scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday,” Disney said in a media statement.

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Instead, Disney will focus marketing on social media, online media and press releases to hype its over-the-top video competitor to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. A planned demo of Disney+ to the press on March 6 will continue as scheduled.

Disney+ is slated to launch in Europe on March 24.

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Warner Cancels ‘Superman: Red Son’ New York Premiere Over Coronavirus Concerns

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment March 2 canceled a screening of the animated film Superman: Red Son slated for March 16 in New York over concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19, aka coronavirus disease 2019.

Based on the DC Comics “Elseworlds” graphic novel from 2003, Red Son takes place in an alternate reality where the spaceship bearing the last survivor of Krypton crash lands in Stalinist Russia instead of rural Kansas, resulting in Superman becoming a hero of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The film features the voices of Jason Isaacs as Superman and Diedrich Bader as Lex Luthor.

The film premiered in Los Angeles Feb. 24 and was released through digital retailers Feb. 25. Warner Feb. 28 announced the New York premiere would be held March 16, the day before Red Son’s March 17 release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

The first case of COVID-19 in New York City was confirmed March 1.

As of March 2, there have been about 90,000 reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 3,100 deaths from the illness — the vast majority occurring in China. Around 100 cases have been reported in the United States, with six deaths in Washington state.

“As the impact and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, Warner Bros. is placing added emphasis on the health and welfare of its employees, talent and fans. To help minimize risk of exposure, Warner Bros. has opted to take preventative measures and cancel the New York premiere,” the studio announced.

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Warner had planned a red carpet event at New York’s Directors Guild with a screening and Q&A for members of the press, with a limited number of tickets available to the general public. The Guild theater has a capacity of 436.

Among those announced to be in attendance were executive producer Bruce Timm, director-producer Sam Liu, screenwriter J.M. DeMatteis, and castmembers Amy Acker (voice of Lois Lane), Vanessa Marshall (Wonder Woman), Roger Craig Smith (Batman) and Sasha Roiz (Hal Jordan).

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Tokyo Disneyland Closing Until Mid-March Due to Coronavirus

On the heels of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announcing the closure of all schools in the country until April due to concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19), Disney said it would be closing Tokyo Disneyland through mid-March.

“We plan to reopen on March 16, but we will make an announcement after keeping close contact with relevant institutions,” park operator Oriental Land Co. Ltd. announced on its website.

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Japan has more than 800 reported COVID-19 infections.

New Disney CEO Bob Chapek most-recently headed the company’s theme park division — Disney’s largest business segment — which has already shuttered amusement parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as the COVID-19 outbreak began in China, where the vast majority have cases have been reported. Disney has warned the closures will have impact on second-quarter fiscal results ending March 31.

Universal Studios Japan is also closing operations during the same time period.

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Apple Cites Coronavirus for Revised Fiscal Outlook

Apple has become one of the first tech/media companies to attribute revised fiscal projections due to the ongoing health crisis in China.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Feb. 17 issued a regulatory filing citing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) for slowdown in production of iPhones, Mac computers, iPad and Apple Watch, among other products.

In a statement, Apple said its quarterly guidance issued on Jan. 28 reflected the “best information” available at the time as well as its best estimates about the pace of return to work following the end of the extended Chinese New Year holiday on Feb. 10 — the latter due to government concern about the spread of the respiratory virus that has killed more than 1,000 people.

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“Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated,” the company wrote. “As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter.”

Specifically, Apple said its worldwide iPhone supply would be temporarily constrained due to the shutdown of manufacturing partner sites located outside the Hubei province.

“While all of these facilities have reopened — they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated,” the company wrote. “The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues.”

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In addition, Apple said demand for its products in China has been negatively affected as consumers there worry more about the spread and containment of the virus than buying the latest consumer electronics device.

“All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed,” Apple said. “Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic.”

The company said retail operations are “gradually reopening” and would continue to do so as “steadily and safely as we can.”

Apple said its corporate offices and contact centers in China are open, and that online stores have remained open throughout the health epidemic.