ESPN Helps Walt Disney Co. To Strong Fourth-Quarter Earnings
Walt Disney Co. "reported strong fourth-quarter earnings, buoyed by gains at Disney Channel and ESPN and at the Burbank company's theme parks," according to Dawn Chmielewski of the L.A. TIMES. ESPN, which "set viewership records for the fourth consecutive year, also benefited from fee increases and ad growth" (L.A. TIMES, 11/11). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Erica Orden reports Disney's media networks, which "include ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel, saw revenue climb to $4.8 billion for the quarter, up 9% over the year-earlier period." Operating income "rose 20% to $1.46 billion" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/11). Walt Disney President & CEO Bob Iger said ad revenue for ABC and ESPN has “slowed a bit the last few weeks across the board, but they have been relatively strong this quarter versus a year ago” (“Closing Bell,” CNBC, 11/10). The L.A. TIMES' Chmielewski noted Walt Disney CFO Jay Rasulo "sought to allay concerns about how the [NBA] labor dispute might effect the company's lucrative ESPN cable sports network." Rasulo said, "Our broad portfolio of rights will enable us to effectively program ESPN without the NBA." He added, "Since many NBA advertisers want to reach male demos, we’ll expect a good portion of NBA ad dollars will (flow) to other ESPN properties, including college basketball." Rasulo said any loss in ad revenue "would be more than offset by a reduction in rights costs" (LATIMES.com, 11/10). At presstime, shares were trading at $36.92 up 6.58% from yesterday's close of $34.64 (THE DAILY).