ESPN Powers Disney Earnings


7 Apr 2011
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Add ABC to the list of broadcasters that have been nailing down their share of retransmission consent dollars, as Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger on Tuesday told investors the network is on pace to take in between $400-$500 million per year in affiliate deals by fiscal year 2016.
While CBS and Fox have been far more vocal about their desire to land retrans dollars, Iger said those payments are adding up to a nice chunk of change for ABC. “We believe we’re getting paid per-sub cash retrans rates that are comparable to what other affiliate groups are seeing,” Iger told investors during Disney’s third quarter earnings call.
Disney’s media networks showed marked improvement in the three-month period ended July 2, as operating income for the segment rose 11 percent to $2.09 billion on revenues of $4.95 billion (up 5 percent year-over-year).
The cable networks unit, which includes ESPN, Disney Channel, and ABC Family, saw operating income grew 10 percent to $1.84 billion on revenues of $3.52 billion, up 7 percent from a year ago.
Disney’s cable group was led by ESPN, which posted higher affiliate revenue. “Year-over-year, ad sales revenues at ESPN were up 9 percent if you exclude the [2010 FIFA] World Cup and Game 7 of the NBA Finals,” said Jay Rasulo, the Disney CFO. With those two blockbuster events factored into the prior-year comparisons, ESPN’s Q3 ad sales revenue dipped 1 percent.
Despite the tough year-to-year comps, ESPN’s prime time ratings in the quarter were generally strong and steady. The sports giant averaged 1.71 million viewers in prime time, down 3 percent from the prior-year period, while the 18-49 and 25-54 demos dipped 4 percent.

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