Disney's Broadcast, Cable Units Record Revenue Hikes

Gaining for a wide range of its businesses, Walt Disney revenues climbed 12% to $14.3 billion in its most recent quarter -- and digital gains continued to rise for its closely watched ESPN brand.

Growth from new digital pay TV providers has stopped the declines at ESPN, when it comes to subscriber's losses from traditional pay TV providers: cable, satellite and telco companies.

Its media networks unit was up 9% to $5.96 billion, despite lower advertising revenues. Total cable network revenues were up 5% to $4.1 billion. ESPN revenues were comparable to the prior-year quarter, with gains on affiliate revenue growth. At the same time, that network recorded lower advertising revenue.

Broadcasting -- its TV networks and TV stations -- witnessed 21% more revenues to $1.8 billion. Disney pointed to the higher program sales of two Marvel TV series and the ABC network show “Black-ish.” Also, its TV stations gained in political TV advertising revenues.

Speaking on CNBC, Bob Iger, CEO, Walt Disney said: “Traditional subscriber losses were abated substantially... That growth [from digital multichannel video program distributors] has continued, but we are not getting specific in terms of updating it.”

Two months ago, Disney said ESPN+ pulled in 1 million paid subscribers, just after five months from its launch. Nielsen cable universe estimates in August showed ESPN with 85.9 million traditional pay TV subscribers -- down 290,000 from July.

With regard to its much awaited general entertainment direct-to-consumer service, Iger said during the earnings call that the new service will be called Disney+ and is set to begin in 2019.

The mostly family-oriented service will feature Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic TV and original movie and library content -- as well as “Star Wars” TV series.

Disney's biggest improvement in its most recent quarter came from its studio theatrical business, which grew 50% more to $2.15 billion in in revenue. That came from strong business around "Black Panther," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Incredibles 2."

Disney’s Parks and Resorts climbed 9% higher to $5.07 billion, with increased guest spending and attendance -- as well as higher results from other related businesses.

Consumer products and interactive media dropped 8% to $1.12 billion due to lower income from licensing activities and  lower comparable-store sales at its retail business.

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