Disney Quarterly Profit Doubles

Nov 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Profit at The Walt Disney Co. doubled last quarter, with the company’s cable television properties, including ESPN, helping propel the gains.

Net income rose to $782 million as revenue increased 14 percent to $8.78 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said Thursday in a statement. Operating income at Disney’s media networks unit, which holds cable channels and the ABC broadcast network, rose 18 percent.

Higher affiliate and advertising sales helped drive an increase in operating profit at ESPN. That countered a decline in operating income at the broadcast division, where costs associated with a Disney-branded mobile phone service and license impairment charges hurt results. At ABC, strong showings by programs including “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” have brought higher advertising sales, along with strong deals in the upfront ad market, the company said.

Disney CEO Bob Iger touted Disney’s digital successes on a conference call with investors, noting that 85 million of the company’s shows, movies or video shorts have been played or downloaded on Disneychannel.com, ABC.com or Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes store. So far, consumers have purchased 12 million ABC shows on iTunes, while Internet surfers have requested 19 million views of the six ad-supported, prime-time shows that the network posts on ABC.com the day after they air on the broadcast network.

Those numbers and growing ratings at ABC and the Disney Channel show that digital efforts and traditional TV distribution complement each other, Mr. Iger said.