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The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

  • 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
  • Thu, Oct. 8, 11:23 AM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is still the top pick in media from J.P. Morgan, says analyst Alexia Quadrani, who's raising quarterly estimates on the strength of advertising in its Media Networks unit.
    • The firm has an Overweight rating on the stock and a price target of $130; 26% upside from its current price of $103.45.
    • Quadrani has raised J.P. Morgan's EPS estimate for the quarter to $1.16, from $1.15; that against a consensus of $1.13. That's based on higher ad performance in both cable and broadcast networks, with “increased demand, sell-through rates, and pricing gains in the Upfronts at ESPN and industry-leading price gains in the Upfronts at ABC with scatter pricing pacing modestly above upfront levels when the company reported earnings in early August."
    • The firm raised its EPS estimates for fiscal 2016 to $5.62 from $5.55, chiefly due to an increase in its buyback assumption (to $3B in Q4) and two well-discussed catalysts: December's theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a spring opening for Shanghai Disneyland.
    | Thu, Oct. 8, 11:23 AM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 6, 9:30 PM
    • ABC TV (NYSE:DIS) is rebranding the ABC Family channel as "Freeform" in January -- what may be an overdue change for a network popular with female millennials.
    • The ABC Family name is a holdover from iterations under various owners. It was launched as a religious-themed channel founded by Pat Robertson in 1977, named the CBN Family Channel in 1988, and later became the Family Channel, Fox Family and ABC Family.
    • As the channel has aged from children to teens and young adults, it'll work to bounce back from a 7% prime-time ratings decline with its new image and the return of its edgier fare including Pretty Little Liars. The audience trajectory now is "from first kiss to first kid," says ABC Family President Tom Ascheim.
    • Despite the rebranding, some religious programming will stay put: Pat Robertson's program The 700 Club will continue to air three times a day into perpetuity as a condition of its original sale.
    | Tue, Oct. 6, 9:30 PM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 6, 3:35 PM
    • Viacom (VIA +2.3%, VIAB +2.9%) and Hulu (CMCSA -0.9%, DIS +0.1%, FOXA) have expanded their content deal, making Hulu the exclusive streaming destination for a number of Comedy Central and MTV programs, notably including Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City and Key & Peele as well as Faking It and Nickelodeon content including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Rugrats.
    • The two formed a pact in 2011 for day-after availability for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report; the new deal renews rights for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. A deal expansion last year added full seasons of a number of Comedy Central and Nick programs.
    • has exclusive rights to other Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central shows that aren't part of Hulu's deal.
    | Tue, Oct. 6, 3:35 PM | 7 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 5, 6:56 PM
    • Video streamer Hulu isn't planning any international expansion for now, despite taking a look at new markets, says CEO Mike Hopkins.
    • That's a contrast from competitor Netflix, which has been shifting marketing dollars to global markets and targeting heavy international growth, with the U.S. making up two-third of subscribers. "For most global Internet firms, the U.S. is 20%-35% of usage and revenue; we're not anywhere close to that yet but we're continuing to invest in international," Reed Hastings said earlier this year.
    • Hopkins also thinks the standard programming bundle will stick around "for years to come" and that over-the-top services are additive, not substitute goods, for now.
    • Speaking at an industry conference in Cannes, France, Hopkins added that Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +2%), Disney (DIS +0.8%) and Fox (FOXA +1.1%) -- is still looking for its signature original hit: “We’re looking for that defining show,” he says, noting that Mad Men and South Park changed AMC and Comedy Central.
    | Mon, Oct. 5, 6:56 PM | 2 Comments
  • Sun, Oct. 4, 10:19 AM
    • Raising ticket prices - as Disney (NYSE:DIS) has done for years at well above the rate of inflation - won't fully solve issues associated with over-the-top demand around holidays and weekends, says Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek, as the company would also like to boost attendance during slower times, and keep prices within reach of the 99%.
    • Demand-based pricing is pretty common in the leisure industry, but single or multiday tickets at Disney's U.S. parks have always cost the same - whether on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, or a rainy midweek day in January.
    • Disney this week will begin asking customers about their feelings toward variable-pricing options.
    • The company started tier pricing at Disneyland Paris last year, with prices now ranging from $64 for an adult ticket good only during "low season," to $94 for one which works all year long.
    • Source: WSJ's Ben Fritz
    | Sun, Oct. 4, 10:19 AM | 50 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 29, 7:07 PM
    • Streaming video service Hulu has made many changes to its model over the past year -- shifting heavily toward its paid service and aggressively moving into original programming -- though its recent move, to create an ad-free tier, raised eyebrows as observers compared its $11.99/month level directly with competitors like Netflix.
    • The tier is off to a good start, though, says CEO Mike Hopkins, who suggests that it's winning over people who wouldn't have considered Hulu otherwise: "So far, so good."
    • Speaking at an IAB ad conference, Hopkins says internal data showed a "big chunk" of potential users wouldn't join due to the ads, while another set points to the ads as a reason for cancellation.
    • Users "like advertising if it’s the right advertising at the right time,” Hopkins said, acknowledging the ad-free tier isn't a big group of subscribers at the moment.
    • Along with the ad-free level, Hulu began selling a "limited" commercial tier at $7.99/month.
    • Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.6%), Disney (DIS +0.9%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) -- has as its ongoing goals personalizing the product further and adding more programming (TV and film) to draw and keep users.
    • Previously: Hulu launches higher-priced ad-free subscription tier (Sep. 02 2015)
    | Tue, Sep. 29, 7:07 PM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 29, 5:28 PM
    • In musical TV news, Starz (STRZA -1.9%) has expanded its partnership with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, executive producer of its biggest original hit, Power.
    • A new two-year exclusive deal means that Jackson's G Unit Film & Television will produce new projects for the network along with keeping Jackson on to star in and produce Power.
    • In other rap collaborations, ABC Family (DIS +1%) gives the go-ahead to a new series from Nicki Minaj, who like Jackson will executive produce and star in her show. It'll be based on immigration with her family from Trinidad.
    | Tue, Sep. 29, 5:28 PM | 5 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 22, 4:04 PM
    • Evercore's Rich Ross sees Disney (DIS -0.9%) stock testing a 200-day moving average, and thinks it's set to break through resistance, fill the gap and hit $120 by year's end.
    • Shares closed today at $102.49, suggesting 17% upside in short order from his target. They've fallen 15.9% since Aug. 5.
    • Meanwhile, chatter about layoffs at ESPN is coming amid word Disney has told the network to cut $100M from the 2016 budget -- and $250M from 2017's.
    • The cuts mean that 200 or 300 employees could lose jobs in the coming months. ESPN is also revamping its midday schedule and its approach to covering some games from the studio.
    • Subscriber losses at ESPN in Disney's Q3 prompted CEO Bob Iger to bring the network front and center of the company's earnings call in August, after earnings which prompted a sell-off in Disney (and from there, many media stocks dependent on affiliate fees).
    • Previously: Disney down again, -5% amid broad media sell-off (Aug. 06 2015)
    • Previously: Disney tumbles 8.9% after revenue miss; Iger talks ESPN again (Aug. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Disney's Iger bullish on ESPN despite consumer changes, unbundling (Aug. 04 2015)
    | Tue, Sep. 22, 4:04 PM | 14 Comments
  • Fri, Sep. 18, 7:39 PM
    • Daily fantasy sports are having their moment with the beginning of the new football season; just ask anyone who complained about sitting through what seemed like several million ads for FanDuel and DraftKings during last weekend's games.
    • The single-day contests promise cash prizes to a vast and attentive fan audience. But the real winners from the boom, Nomura suggests, are the media companies that reap that ad bonanza -- particularly CBS and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS).
    • "Although perhaps a temporary phenomenon, we believe that growth in ad spend from (daily fantasy sports) could drive an incremental 40-60 basis points in third quarter Internet/media ad spend growth," writes Nomura's Anthony DiClemente. "An incremental 50 basis points represents roughly a third of our estimated 1.5% year-over-year Q3 TV advertising growth assumption, with most benefits accruing to broadcasters of the NFL."
    • And that means CBS and Disney, with heavy college and pro broadcasts. ESPN has $250M of DraftKings spending already guaranteed, and: “Given its concentration of sports content, we believe CBS could be a primary beneficiary of fantasy football ad spend growth.”
    • Fox and NBC should get an uptick, but it may be harder to spot given their wider revenue bases.
    • Internet beneficiaries, according to DiClemente, are some typical suspects: Yahoo, along with Facebook and Google.
    | Fri, Sep. 18, 7:39 PM | 7 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 17, 1:36 PM
    • Walt Disney (DIS +0.7%) is in talks with Netflix (NFLX +1.3%) to put five Star Wars films onto the service -- but only in Latin America, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
    • The move should build more regional awareness of the franchise/brand ahead of the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney controls distribution rights to all the films beyond the original (whose rights belong to Fox).
    • Disney makes more by selling digital copies of the films than by licensing to streaming services in general. But the regional move could be a strong investment, considering awareness of Star Wars is quite high outside Latin America.
    • The Mouse House recently made a deal with Tencent to stream the films in China.
    • Disney's bigger streaming deal with Netflix kicks in next year, which will include The Force Awakens and future Star Wars films after their theatrical and DVD windows.
    | Thu, Sep. 17, 1:36 PM | 9 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 16, 9:23 AM
    • Media General (NYSE:MEG) says it's signed a long-term affiliation deal with ABC TV (NYSE:DIS), incorporating the bigger ABC station portfolio that acquisitive Media General has taken on, until 2021.
    • The local broadcaster operates 71 stations in 48 markets; the deal with ABC covers its network affiliates in 12 markets, reaching 6M TV households.
    • "Media General is one of our larger affiliate groups and this long-term, comprehensive agreement assures that the value of our mutually beneficial relationship is fully recognized," says Disney's John Rouse.
    | Wed, Sep. 16, 9:23 AM | Comment!
  • Tue, Sep. 15, 5:23 PM
    • The new fall TV season doesn't begin in earnest until after next week's Emmy Awards, but the return of football is again providing welcome news for broadcasters.
    • Football-related programs took 11 of the top 20 spots in the ratings during the past week, and NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) tallied up the viewers. Thursday night's NFL season kickoff (Pittsburgh at New England) became the second-most watched season opener, with 27.4M viewers.
    • The Sunday night game (New York Giants at Dallas) was second in the week's ratings, with 26.8M. The next three spots were NBC's pregame shows for those games.
    • CBS drew numbers for its pregame and postgames, and 60 Minutes benefited again from a football lead-in, finishing eighth to be the highest non-football program with 11.5M viewers.
    • After weeks where Fox News Channel (FOX, FOXA) topped cable primetime, ESPN (NYSE:DIS) took the lead this week, with 3.69M viewers on average to Fox News' 1.7M and USA Network's 1.62M.
    • NBC Nightly News is tops in news, with 8.2M viewers to ABC's World News Tonight with 7.8M and CBS Evening News with 6.3M.
    | Tue, Sep. 15, 5:23 PM | 2 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.