Disney Could See 20% Decline In 2020 Ad Revenues: Analyst

With little expected to change for TV advertising anytime soon due to COVID-19, one analyst says Walt Disney could see a 20% decline for TV networks and stations’ advertising revenue this year.

Total TV ad revenue -- from all its national TV networks -- could tally $5.8 billion, says MoffettNathanson Research, which estimates a modest recovery in 2021, up 10% to $6.4 billion.

Disney’s cable TV networks including ESPN and Freeform will see the bulk of that decline this year, down 27% to $2.8 billion, with recovery in 2021 -- up 26% to $3.5 billon.

ESPN is taking a massive hit due to the absence of live sports programming, including the NBA and Major League Baseball. But could see more problems in the next few months.

In the fourth quarter -- with the NFL and college football -- ESPN has grabbed its greatest percentage of viewers. For sports, its Nielsen-measured C3 viewers -- the average commercial minute ratings, plus three days of time-shifted viewing -- comprising from 52% to 61% share, says Michael Nathanson, media analyst of MoffettNathanson.



“The NBA has already postponed the remainder of their season with a continuation date yet to be announced; however, if the upcoming professional and college football season is delayed due to the coronavirus, ESPN will be in much bigger trouble,” he writes.

Disney’s broadcast business, including the ABC Television Network and its TV stations, will fare a bit better than its cable operations -- dropping 12% to $3.01 billion this year (from $3.4 billion in 2019). After that, it is forecast to continue to sink another 2% to $2.96 billion (2021), and a 2% decline in 2022 in $2.91 billion.

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