Disney Sees Quarterly Ad Gains, Thanks To College Football, Political Spots

Walt Disney’s TV networks -- broadcast and cable -- witnessed higher advertising revenues during its most recent quarter financial period from an improved mix of college football playoff games on ESPN and higher political advertising at its TV stations.

Overall cable network revenue was up 4% to $4 billion from higher advertising revenue, as well as higher overall affiliate fee revenue.

Broadcasting revenues were up 12% to $1.9 billion as a result of improved affiliate revenue growth, increased advertising revenue and better program sales revenue. Disney says the higher ad revenue is partly attributable to high political advertising at ABC-owned television stations.

All this came amid lower network average viewership.

Disney’s Studio Entertainment revenues declined 27% to $1.8 billion from lower theatrical revenues, due to the strong performance of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Thor: Ragnarok” in the prior-year quarter.

Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products business revenues improved 5% to $6.8 billion.

Disney’s new configured Direct-to-Consumer and International business saw revenue slipping 1% to $918 million, with a operating loss expanding to $136 million from $42 million, due to costs of Disney’s new OTT digital platform ESPN+, which was launched in April 2018.

Other losses for the unit came from the upcoming launch of Disney+. Revenue hikes were realized at its international channels. Disney trimmed its equity loss in Hulu. In the fourth quarter, Disney says Hulu had improved subscription and advertising revenue -- and higher programming costs.

In a recent filing, Disney said its investment in Hulu was the primary contributor to a $580 million loss in equity investments in the fiscal year that ended September 30. In addition, Disney lost $469 million mostly from BAMtech, its streaming technology company behind ESPN+ and other digital services.

Disney revenues were flat at $15.3 billion for its first fiscal quarter ending December 29, 2018, with net income down 37% to $2.8 billion.

Disney stock price was up 2% in mid-day Tuesday trading -- beating analysts financial estimates. It closed up 0.8% to $112.66.

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