Disney Announces ESPN Plus: Is It Too Little Too Late?

San Francisco California. Mike Windle  Getty Images for ESPN  AFP

Disney says its cable networks - including its closely watched ESPN - witnessed another modest decline in subscribers, to 3%.

Hulu, of which Disney owns 30 percent, brought in revenue of $50 million in the quarter, less than half the year-earlier level of $119 million.

In December, Disney announced a $52.4 billion deal to buy film, television and worldwide assets from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc FOXA.O , a move that will allow it to offer more programming to online viewers.

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The media and entertainment conglomerate reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.89 for October through December, ahead of the $1.61 analysts expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Within the same app, consumers would need to be pay TV subscribers to access ESPN television networks on an authenticated basis. "The demand for those brands, we believe, will give us the ability to spend less on volumes", said Iger, on a conference call on February 6.

The power of Disney parks - where attendance was up - helped the company beat Wall Street profit estimates. For the new ESPN app, we expect it to include a more personalized experience with usual relevant scores and highlights next to streaming versions of ESPN's cable broadcasts and podcasts. ESPN's advertising revenue declined 11% y-o-y in the first quarter, as higher rates were more than offset by a decrease in impressions. But Disney said it nonetheless had a "solid" quarter due to Thor: Ragnorak, Coco, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, even though the latter film fell short of box office expectations.

"The strategic investments we've made have driven meaningful growth over the long term, and we remain confident in our ability to continue to deliver significant shareholder value", said Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

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"We're trying to surround the fan with everything they could possibly want", LaBerge said in an interview last month.

Tuesday's investor call was a busy one for Disney, who took the opportunity to lock down plans for multiple Star Wars TV projects along with a new film series from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creative masterminds behind HBO's ├╝ber-popular Game of Thrones. Disney's Marvel also should expect big things from Black Panther, which opens February 16.

Media networks Q4 revenue growth was flat at $6.24 billion. Most of the increase was attributable to a $1.6 billion one-time tax benefit associated with the rewrite of the federal tax code.

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