'ESPN Plus' streaming service launching this spring for $4.99 per month

'ESPN Plus' streaming service launching this spring for $4.99 per month

Disney said it earned an adjusted $1.89 a share, compared to the $1.61 that Wall Street expected for the quarter ending. Revenues for the quarter increased 4 percent to $15.35 billion.

The service will be called ESPN Plus, and live inside a new app that will be launched by the sports broadcasting network in spring 2018 - much earlier than Disney's more general subscription streaming service that will launch in 2019.

The company's net income increase was partly due to a US$1.6 billion one-time tax benefit associated with new U.S. federal income tax legislation.

Chief Executive Bob Iger said: "We're excited about what lies ahead, with a robust film slate, the launch of our ESPN direct-to-consumer business, new investments in our theme parks, and our pending acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox". A deep potpourri of live sporting events, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer games, on top of plenty of tennis, boxing, golf, college sports, golf, rugby, and cricket contests not available on ESPN's traditional TV networks.

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Subscribers will also have access to ESPN films-including the 30 for 30 franchise-and additional original sports programming. And they want you to pay $4.99 per month for it. 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. The unit benefited by higher theatrical distribution results of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Thor: Ragnarok in Q1 versus Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Doctor Strange in the prior-year quarter. Iger is also enthused about the next Marvel movie, Black Panther, which has been getting strong word of mouth and praise from critics.

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.

That app, according to Iger, will offer three primary functionalities. 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.

When asked whether Disney would spend as much as its main rival, Netflix, on its OTT products (Netflix is spending $7-$8 billion on content this year), Iger said that because of the strength of Disney's brands, it did not need to focus as much on volume.

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