Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Disney Discloses Earnings, ESPN+ Price

The Walt Disney Company reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations on Tuesday, but revenue missed estimates.

Here's how the company did compared with what Wall Street expected:
  • Adjusted EPS: $1.89 vs. $1.61 expected according to Thomson Reuters
  • Revenue: $15.35 billion vs. $15.45 billion expected according to Thomson Reuters
  • That adjusted earnings per share figure accounts for the recent tax overhaul and other one-time benefits totaling about $1.6 billion.
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger told CNBC's "Closing Bell" that the company will price ESPN Plus, the company's first direct-to-consumer streaming service, at $4.99 per month. That product will roll out with the relaunch of the ESPN app this spring, Iger said.

According to CNBC, Iger said ESPN Plus will offer "an array of live programming that is not available — live sports, live sports events — that is not available on current channels, and that's by the thousands."

In a December call with analysts, Iger explained that this ESPN streaming service was intended to be an add-on for the "ultimate sports fan" subscriber.

The ESPN announcement comes amid a 1 percent year-over-year decline in segment operating income for Disney's cable networks business. The company said in its Tuesday release that ESPN saw lower advertising revenue in the fiscal first quarter.

Disney's other businesses reported revenue that fell short of Wall Street projections. Here's how much each segment brought in compared with what analysts projected, according to StreetAccount consensus estimates:
  • Media and networks: $6.24 billion vs. $6.35 billion expected
  • Parks and resorts: $5.15 billion vs. $4.86 billion expected
  • Studio: $2.50 billion vs. $2.75 billion expected
  • Consumer and interactive: $1.45 billion vs. $1.52 billion
The decline in revenues for media networks was largely due to lower advertising revenue, higher programming costs and lower operating income from program sales, said Disney chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy. ESPN, which has been suffering from a loss of cable subscribers, saw ad revenue decline 11% in the fiscal first-quarter, McCarthy said.

Disney's earnings report comes as its blockbuster deal with Twenty-First Century Fox looms over the rest of the entertainment industry. In December, Disney announced a $66.1 billion deal, including debt, to acquire many parts of Fox. The boards of both companies asked longtime CEO Bob Iger to stay on through the end of 2021. Fox CEO James Murdoch will help with the transition.

Exclusive and original content help media companies market their direct-to-consumer offerings. Disney's proposed acquisition of Fox assets would broaden the company's content portfolio, making it more competitive.

When Disney announced that it plans on launching a stand-alone streaming service in 2019, the company said it would also be pulling its movies from Netflix. In November, Disney said it plans to price its service "substantially below" that of Netflix, in part because it would initially have a smaller library than what the streaming giant offers.

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