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The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

  • Wed, Oct. 21, 11:24 AM
    • Confirming previous reports, ESPN (DIS +1.2%) is laying off about 300 workers -- some 4% of its workforce.
    • Network chief John Skipper sent a memo to staff about the "difficult" moves. He says they'll get 60 days notice along with a severance package and outplacement benefits.
    • The employees are expected to get the news over the next couple of days.
    • "I realize this process will be difficult – for everyone – but we believe the steps we are taking will ultimately create important competitive advantages for our business over the long term," Skipper writes.
    • Updated: The moves will be spread across the company, including distribution, advertising, technology, administration, content and others, the WSJ says. Distribution will consolidate teams to reflect cable TV consolidation, and ad sales teams will be streamlined.
    • Previously: Bloomberg: ESPN set to cut 350 jobs amid downturn (Oct. 20 2015)
    | Wed, Oct. 21, 11:24 AM | 5 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 21, 10:04 AM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up 1% as it launches its subscription streaming/content service, DisneyLife, in the United Kingdom.
    • The service, launching at £9.99/month (about $15.43), offers not just video but also books and music. Thousands of Disney Channel shows join an extensive film catalog, including Pixar entries and animated classics like Snow White and Cinderella.
    • Marvel and Lucasfilm titles won't be on the service, though CEO Bob Iger says it might expand to include them.
    • Whether (when?) the service could be expanded to the U.S. is an open question. One interesting development is that DisneyLife is making content available for download, to enable offline viewing.
    | Wed, Oct. 21, 10:04 AM | 17 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 21, 5:04 AM
    • Early ticket sales for December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens has broken IMAX records with more than $6.5M for U.S. screenings, after a new trailer of the film was aired during ESPN's Monday Night Football.
    • IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) said presales for The Force Awakens far outpaced first day sales for 2012's The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers and 2013's Hunger Games: Catching Fire, all in the $1M presale range.
    • The new movie from Disney (NYSE:DIS) will see the return of veterans Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, as well as newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver.
    • Previously: Box office websites crash after Star Wars 7 preview debuts (Oct. 20 2015)
    | Wed, Oct. 21, 5:04 AM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 20, 8:04 PM
    • After a lot of talk about the evolution of TV upfronts, a swath of hyped premieres and political debates and the return of football, TV ad spending for Q3 was flat Y/Y.
    • Cable spending rose 1% for the quarter, but broadcast ads fell 3%, according to Standard Media Index. Local-focused spot spending was up 2%.
    • Syndication spending fell 6%; local cable, MSO and satellite TV slipped 1%.
    • There were few positive signs, but the scatter market rose 6% for the quarter, and Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI) and AMC (NASDAQ:AMCX) showed ad spending growth, as did broadcasters Telemundo and ABC (NYSE:DIS).
    • Local broadcast stocks: SBGI, MEG, SNI, GTN, MDP, TGNA, NXST
    • Other network stocks: AMCX, DIS, CMCSA, CBS, FOX, FOXA, VIA, VIAB, STRZA, DISCA
    | Tue, Oct. 20, 8:04 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Oct. 20, 7:15 PM
    • Baseball's being very good to Turner (TWX +0.8%), as TBS rode the playoffs to a win in cable ratings last week.
    • The network averaged 4.6M viewers in prime-time, largely due to a network-record pace for postseason baseball ratings, which are averaging 5.9M viewers.
    • It beat ESPN (DIS; 3.2M) and sibling net CNN, which hit a 2.2M average on the strength of a Democratic debate that drew more than 15M.
    • TBS also pulled a rare win on a 24-hour basis -- the usual province of children's programming like Nick and the Disney Channel -- and also among the 18-49 demographic.
    • Its Saturday broadcast of game 1 of the NLCS (Mets-Cubs) was the sixth-most watched program of the week, behind the Democratic debate (and its pre-show and post-show), The Walking Dead on AMC (AMCX -6.3%), and Oct. 12's Monday Night Football (Pittsburgh-San Diego).
    | Tue, Oct. 20, 7:15 PM | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 20, 4:47 PM
    | Tue, Oct. 20, 4:47 PM | 11 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 19, 4:58 PM
    • Walt Disney (DIS +1.1%) aims for a bit of synergistic crossover tonight: It's promised the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but not in theaters before another high-profile release -- it's coming at halftime of Monday Night Football tonight on ESPN.
    • There's little chance of the trailer being overlooked even on short notice, since the company is launching a massive effort for movie ticket presales in conjunction with theater chains to begin after the trailer airs. Ticket demand crashed theater-ticket servers in the UK today.
    • The new film opens Dec. 18, so buyers will be getting a two-month head-start on a very hot ticket. Morgan Stanley's Benjamin Swinburne has the film pegged to finish as the No. 3 grosser of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic.
    • Considering that the trailer will draw thousands who might not otherwise be tuning in to the Giants-Eagles game -- but also air in front of football fans outside of Star Wars' wheelhouse -- an interesting question is whether the trailer will focus on new characters, or instead the familiar veterans who are reappearing in the series for the first time since 1983's Return of the Jedi.
    | Mon, Oct. 19, 4:58 PM | 22 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 19, 11:52 AM
    • In the scare-off at the pre-Halloween weekend box office, youth-focused Goosebumps (SNE +0.9%) spooked a larger-than-usual number of competitors to take the top spot with grosses of $23.5M.
    • The rivals included the more grown-up gothic-romance Crimson Peak (CMCSA +0.3%), from director Guillermo del Toro, which disappointed with $12.9M for a fourth-place finish.
    • The Martian (FOX -0.4%, FOXA -0.5%) gave up the top spot in its third week to finish second, with $21.5M ($143.8M cumulative).
    • Among the other debuts, Bridge of Spies (DIS +0.6%), the Cold War drama starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg, was No. 3 with $15.4M.
    • Goosebumps is based on the popular youth-horror book series -- but loosely, as the story involves author R.L. Stine himself, played by Jack Black. Meanwhile, Sony's Hotel Transylvania 2 took another $12.3M to hit $136.4M total for its four weeks of release.
    | Mon, Oct. 19, 11:52 AM | Comment!
  • Fri, Oct. 16, 7:19 PM
    • Despite some initial hesitation, media companies are starting to sign on to a planned YouTube service that lets consumers watch videos ad-free.
    • Firms including Turner Broadcasting (NYSE:TWX), Fox Sports (FOX, FOXA), A&E (NYSE:DIS), and NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are going along, The Wall Street Journal reports. They stand to gain about 55% of overall subscription revenue for their agreement, apportioned by time spent on the videos.
    • YouTube is hoping to launch the service soon at around $10/month. Google (GOOG, GOOGL) had confirmed in the spring that it was bringing an ad-free YouTube out, likely before year-end.
    • Some of the companies kicked at first, arguing for disproportionate share compared to smaller YouTube creators, but YouTube is managing to keep the revenue split terms intact so far. Other companies continue to negotiate the terms of joining up.
    | Fri, Oct. 16, 7:19 PM | 20 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 15, 7:39 PM
    • In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins covers at least a couple of differences from VOD giant Netflix: He's not planning a move into original movies, and has no plans to take the service overseas, for now.
    • In other tidbits: He thinks the (reported) $700K/episode price for Seinfeld has been worth it ("Subscribers have flocked to that show in ways that we haven't seen with any other show"); its content investments are "quite a bit higher" than the $500M it reportedly spent in 2012; the biggest surprise hit is The Mindy Project, a top-five show there.
    • As for its ad-free and limited-ad plans: "The mix of subscribers taking our no-commercials plan and limited-commercials plan is exactly what we projected. We assumed that a large majority of people would choose to stick to the limited commercials plan — and that's held true for new sign-ups as well."
    • And the corporate ownership that used to vex former chief Jason Kilar is an advantage, Hopkins says: "We couldn't be doing what we're doing if it wasn't for the support of Fox (FOX +2.5%, FOXA +2.5%), NBC (CMCSA +1.8%) and ABC (DIS +2.1%)." An IPO or sale aren't in the plans until they build further, he suggests.
    | Thu, Oct. 15, 7:39 PM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Oct. 15, 2:32 PM
    • Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +1.5%, FOXA +1.7%) is denying hot rumors of a superhero swap that would return film rights to the Fantastic Four series to Marvel (DIS +1.6%) in return for TV rights to X-Men.
    • Fox is saying it's committed to more from the characters. The Fantastic Four has had a checkered film past, culminating in a most recent flop that's earned just $56M for Fox this summer.
    • A 1994 adaptation was produced as an ashcan copy to retain rights and never released. A 2005 adaptation that Fox released made $155M domestically, and a 2007 sequel made $132M.
    • Fox is planning a sequel to its most recent reboot for June 2017.
    • Marvel and Fox are working together to develop a pair of TV shows set in the X-Men universe, tentatively titled Legion and Hellfire.
    • Previously: 'Fantastic Four' falters, fails to top box office (Aug. 10 2015)
    | Thu, Oct. 15, 2:32 PM | 7 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 14, 10:47 PM
    • Prime-time broadcast ratings are still in decline -- even counting delayed views from DVRs and video on demand.
    • Some individual shows display strength with the delayed viewings, but overall, prime-time premiere week (counting seven days of recorded viewing and four days of on-demand) fell 9% to 9.1M viewers on average.
    • The brunt of viewer declines has fallen on ABC (9.2M average, down 11% from 10.3M) and Fox (5.7M average, down 15% from 6.8M).
    • NBC fell 12% (10.7M average, down from 12.1M) and CBS -- benefiting from a very strong NFL lead-in -- slipped 2% to 13.1M from 13.2M.
    • Smaller network the CW, on the other hand, was up 25% on average to 1.2M viewers from 980K.
    • Broadcast companies: CBS; ABC (NYSE:DIS); NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA); Fox (FOX, FOXA); the CW (CBS/TWX)
    | Wed, Oct. 14, 10:47 PM | 6 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 13, 10:30 PM
    • The Walking Dead's zombies may be showing a weakness, as the season premiere of the lead series from AMC Networks (AMCX -5.1%) gave up viewers from its last go-round.
    • Sunday's premiere drew 14.6M viewers, compared to 17.3M last year and 16.1M in 2013, Nielsen said.
    • To be fair, AMC noted it was up against a tough Sunday Night Football game, and it mused that a 90-minute premiere may have turned off viewers compared to shorter past premieres.
    • The show's still a monster hit, finishing second only to NCIS among TV dramas this week.
    • CBS took the overall ratings crown, averaging 10.3M viewers; ESPN (NYSE:DIS) was the most popular cable net, averaging 4.03M. Evening news was won by NBC Nightly News (NASDAQ:CMCSA), averaging 8.3M viewers.
    | Tue, Oct. 13, 10:30 PM | 13 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 12, 6:53 PM
    • Over the weekend, four staffers at Bill Simmons' old stomping grounds -- ESPN's (NYSE:DIS) Grantland -- left the project to join Simmons' new, still-undetailed venture at HBO (NYSE:TWX).
    • Some turnover is unsurprising (and indeed ESPN responded: "We completely expected turnover which is not at all unusual in this space ... though we have re-signed seven Grantland staffers in recent weeks. The site's traffic continues to soar"), but today it emerged that Grantland Editorial Director Dan Fierman hs left for the same title at MTV News, leaving a bigger hole to fill.
    • Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated says the four staffers are Sean Fennessey, Juliet Litman, Mallory Rubin and Chris Ryan.
    | Mon, Oct. 12, 6:53 PM | 11 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 8, 4:29 PM
    • Walt Disney (DIS +1.2%) is making some moves in its long-term schedule, pushing its Toy Story sequel a year later and rearranging animation, live action and Marvel schedules along with setting an Ant-Man sequel.
    • The news comes as the filmmaker says it's crossed the $4B mark at the global box office ($1.433B domestic, $2.575B international) for the third straight year, and nearly six weeks faster than last year.
    • Inside Out has become a megahit, crossing the $800M global gross mark thanks to an opening in China this week. The film has drawn $353.9M at the domestic box office.
    • Toy Story 4 will now hit wide release June 15, 2018, a year later from its June 2017 slot -- which now makes room for Cars 3 to come out that month. Incredibles 2 is set for June 21, 2019.
    • Meanwhile, at Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp has gotten the green light and is headed for release July 6, 2018. The low-expectations original earned $178.5M domestically. That means a move for Black Panther (to Feb. 16, 2018, from original July 2018 date) and Captain Marvel, moving from November 2018 to March 8, 2019.
    • Looking still further out, Marvel says it will release three films (yet to be named) in May, July and November of 2020. Disney will add in two Pixar releases and one Disney Animation offering that year.
    | Thu, Oct. 8, 4:29 PM | 19 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 8, 11:52 AM
    | Thu, Oct. 8, 11:52 AM | 4 Comments
Company Description
Walt Disney Co, together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified entertainment company with operations in five business segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive.