Cable Operators

Iger Believes In TV Everywhere

2/14/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

TV Everywhere is paying dividends
for Disney, after early skepticism by its CEO.

Amid an earnings call in which cable-network
revenue and profit gains were highlights,
The Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger declared
his company was “extremely supportive” of efforts
by cable and satellite TV providers to create
online versions of the TV programming
their subscribers are already paying for.

Disney’s ESPN sports networks created
online versions for “authenticated” Time
Warner Cable subscribers after the media
conglomerate signed a broad retransmission-
consent and cable carriage contract
with that MSO last September. TWC subscribers
are able to view ESPN, ESPN2 and
ESPNU online, plus see online versions of
new services ESPN Buzzer Beater and ESPN
Goal Line, which TWC agreed to carry.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Disney has always been willing to extend its
content to other platforms, but always wanted
to ensure it was adequately paid. Disney was
one of the first programmers to sell content via
Apple’s iTunes Store, for example.

Iger sounded skeptical
about TV everywhere
on earlier occasions.

At The Cable Show in
2009, Iger said restricting
online access only to customers
of a multichannel
video service could be
viewed as anti-consumer
and anti-technology and
“something we would
find difficult to embrace.”

On last Tuesday’s fiscal
first-quarter earnings
call, though, Iger
said Disney is enthusiastically
wrapping its arms
around authentication
beyond the sports realm.
He called it a means to
create value for content
providers, distributors
and
consumers.

“We are extremely
supportive of
authentication
and
believe this
is just the beginning
of a
trend that we
will be seeing
not just
for ESPN, but
for multiple Disney-owned so-called cable
television properties,”he said.

The cable properties, led by ESPN and including
Disney Channel and ABC Family,
enjoyed strong growth in the three months
that ended Jan. 1 — bolstering a case that TV
everywhere, in the form of the TWC agreement,
was paying off .

BY THE NUMBERS

Strong advertising sales and higher affiliate
fees drove cable revenue up 16%, while operating
income surged 42%.

At the broadcast division, revenue rose 4%,
to $1.6 billion, and operating income rose
64%, to $295 million.

Ad revenue rose 27% at ESPN in the period,
and in the current quarter, scatter pricing
for all networks is pacing 30% ahead of
the upfront, Disney said.

March