Disney Looks to $1B MLB Deal For a Boost


Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue on Tuesday, fueled by a near 40 percent jump in revenue at its studio unit.

Disney also said it was acquiring a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, a video-streaming company formed by Major League Baseball (MLB), for $1 billion. The company has the option to acquire a majority ownership in the coming years.

Revenue in Disney's cable networks business rose 1.4 percent to $4.20 billion in the third quarter ended July 2.

ESPN - the company's cash cow - grew in the quarter due to affiliate and advertising revenue growth, partially offset by higher programming costs, Disney said.

Disney also said ESPN posted a decline in subscribers.

Like other media companies, Disney, owner of the ABC network, has been hit by "cord-cutting" - the switch to streaming services from cable and satellite TV.

In the same period a year earlier, Chief Executive Bob Iger warned that ESPN was weighed down by "modest" declines in subscribers, as they moved to cheaper digital platforms.

Studio entertainment revenue increased 39.6 percent to $2.85 billion, helped by a brace of successful Disney movies such as "The Jungle Book" and Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" and Pixar's "Finding Dory."

Revenue at its theme park and resorts business was up 6 percent to $4.38 billion.

The net income attributable to the company rose to $2.6 billion, or $1.59 per share, in the third quarter ended July 2, from $2.48 billion, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $14.28 billion from $13.10 billion.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.62 per share.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.61 per share and revenue of $14.15 billion.

Disney's shares were down marginally at $96 in extended trading on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)