Disney reported earnings on Tuesday night that were mixed.
The company reported earnings per share of $US1.45 on revenue of $US13.1 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings of $US1.41 on revenue of $US13.2 billion, according to estimates from Bloomberg.
In pre-market trade on Wednesday, shares of Disney were down 7% after hitting a record high on Tuesday.
But what everyone’s been talking about over the last few months is ESPN.
Specifically, whether the decline in subscribers and the overall shift in the media landscape would take a dent out of the pre-eminence ESPN has enjoyed over the last 10 years.
On Tuesday night, Rich Greenfield at BTIG noted that cable accounts for around half of Disney’s profit.
And so with a major profit driver facing questions about its future, Disney CEO Bob Iger spent more than half of his opening remarks on the company’s conference call discussing — and defending — ESPN.
Via Seeking Alpha, here’s a big chunk of what Iger had to say (emphasis added):
Before Tom takes you through the highlights of our businesses, I’d like to address an issue that has been receiving a fair amount of interest and attention these days and that’s the rapidly changing media landscape especially as it relates to ESPN. We are realists about the business and about the impact technology has had on how product is distributed, marketed and consumed. We are also quite mindful of potential trends among younger audiences, in particular many of whom consume television in very different ways than the generations before them. Economics have also played a part in change and both cost and value are under a consumer microscope. All of this has and will continue to put pressure on the multichannel ecosystem, which has seen a decline in overall households as well as growth in so-called skinny or cable light packages.
ESPN’s experienced some modest sub losses although those have been less than reported by one of the prominent research firms and the vast majority of them, 80%, were due to decreases in multichannel households with only a small percentage due to skinny packages. Overall though we believe the expanded basic package will remain the dominant package of choice for some years to come, because to the quality and variety it represents for a price that is generally considered fair and appropriate…
…ESPN is the number one brand in sports media and one of the most valuable brands in all sports and among the most popular, respected and valuable brands in media, by consumers, advertisers and distributors. This is supported by the fact that in the first calendar quarter of this year alone, 83% of all multichannel households turn to ESPN at some point…
Now we all know how valuable live programming has become and ESPN is the leader in live programming. 96% of all sports programming is watched live and this is particularly valuable in today’s rapidly changing advertising marketplace.
You can read Iger’s complete prepared remarks, and the entirety of Disney’s call (which, frankly, is mostly about ESPN), at Seeking Alpha here »
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