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

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

Analysts had predicted revenue of $4.87bn.

Disney shares closed higher in the US Tuesday, with after-hours activity also placing the stock in the green, Wednesday, as the media company posted upbeat - if mixed - results.

Disney confirmed that its new streaming service will be called ESPN Plus and that it will launch in spring 2018 through a redesigned version of the ESPN app.

ESPN Plus: How will you access it?

For that, ESPN+ customers will get thousands of live events annually, including pro baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as tennis, boxing, golf and college sports not available on ESPN's traditional TV networks. Reports from the previous year indicate significant losses to ESPN's subscription numbers, which is a huge blow despite the continuing strength of the demand for the network.

All of the high-profile content ESPN pays billions of dollars a year to show - stuff like National Basketball Association games, NLF games, top-tier college football - none of that will be on ESPN's new service.

During today's earnings call, Iger offered some more details about the ESPN streaming service. The sports network has seen a decline in viewership over the past couples years due to the other cheaper digital services & outlets out there like Netflix, Youtube, etc. Investors have been concerned about the decline in revenue & ad sales and are looking for ways to fix it. 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.

As for Disney's overall Q1, the mixed earnings were partly attributed to weaker results across the company's cable television, studio entertainment and consumer products divisions.

The news came in addition to the big announcement that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are set to take on new Star Wars films. At the time, Disney said it wanted to launch a dedicated over-the-top ESPN service. The apps will also be an opportunity for Disney to exploit all of the Fox content Disney acquires once its $52.4 billion purchase of Fox makes its way through the federal regulatory process. It has agreed to pay $52bn to buy film, TV and global assets from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox.

Iger didn't mention a specific budget but did suggest that his company would spend less than the $8 billion that Netflix plans to invest in 2018.

"Our upcoming Disney DTC service will also combine the full range of BAMTech's capabilities with some of the world's most popular IP to deliver a compelling consumer experience when it launches in late 2019", he suggested.

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