walt disney studios
Photo by John Schreiber.

On the day it announced plans to begin operating its own video streaming service, the Walt Disney Co. Tuesday reported third-quarter earnings that remained flat compared to the same period a year ago, while reporting a 5 percent drop in diluted earnings per share.

The Burbank-based company reported diluted earnings per share of $1.51, down 5 percent from $1.59 in the third quarter of the last fiscal year. The company reported revenues of $14.24 billion, virtually unchanged from $14.28 billion the same period a year ago.

The earnings were reported simultaneously with an announcement that Disney will be introducing its own direct-to-consumer streaming service beginning in 2019, making it the exclusive home of Disney and Pixar films. The company will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for streaming of new releases, beginning with its 2019 slate of films. That year’s films will include “Toy Story 4,” the sequel to “Frozen” and a live-action version of “The Lion King.”

Disney also announced that it had acquired majority ownership of the BAMTech streaming technology company, which will lead to development of an ESPN- branded sports-streaming service next year. The service will essentially be a revamping of the existing ESPN app, which provides access to videos and live ESPN programming, but the new version will offer roughly 10,000 live events a year, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and college sports.

“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said.

–City News Service

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