Across the board it delivered good results. A 10 per cent growth in ad sales at ESPN contributed to a 20 per cent increase in operating income at Disney’s television unit. Record attendance at theme delivered a 16 per cent increase at Disney’s resorts division. Sales of “Star Wars” toys fueled a 24 per cent rise at Disney Consumer Products.
The star of the quarter was Walt Disney Studios, where operating income spiked 75 per cent, to $409 million. Disney’s movie studio benefited from “Thor: The Dark World”, which had $633.1 million in global ticket sales, an increase of 36 percent over the first “Thor” in 2011, after accounting for inflation. And the studio, in a turnaround at its animation division, found an unexpectedly huge hit in “Frozen”, about two Nordic princesses and a wisecracking snowman.
The only weak area for the quarter was television broadcasting. Operating income at ABC and Disney’s eight local television stations declined 32 per cent, to $178 million. Disney cited higher programming costs, as ABC searches for new hits; lower syndication sales, because of a lack of hits; and decreased advertising revenue at local stations.
Revenue climbed 9 per cent, to $12.3 billion.
Disney Interactive, which has downsized repeatedly in recent years, seeking consistent profitability, is working on plans to eliminate at least 200 additional jobs in the coming weeks. Disney said that Disney Interactive would report a second-quarter operating loss.
Disney Interactive’s overall results are substantially better than they have been. For the first quarter, the division recorded $55 million in operating income, an increase from $9 million a year earlier, led by a hit video game called Infinity and stout sales of Disney-brand cellphones in Japan.