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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Lots of Disney News Heading Into the Earnings Calls

 by Ray Keating



February 6, 2024


Heading into the company’s February 7 earnings call, there’s plenty of news swirling around the Walt Disney Company.


First, another big-time activist investor group – Blackwells Capital – is tossing board nominees into the ring for the April 3 shareholder meeting. Blackwells wants to expand the number of board seats, and is talking about the possibility of breaking up Disney into three public companies, according to Reuters. Does anyone else detect an early-1980s vibe here, given Disney’s recent terrible stock performance?


This, of course, in addition to Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management effort to replace Disney board members.

Second, news broke on February 6 that ESPN, Fox and Warner Brothers are going to team up to establish a mega-sports streaming service. Each company would own a one-third share of the joint venture. According to the press release from Disney, “The platform would aggregate content to offer fans an extensive, dynamic lineup of sports content, aiming to provide a new and differentiated experience to serve sports fans, particularly those outside of the traditional pay TV bundle. By subscribing to this focused, all-in-one premier sports service, fans would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+.”


Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “The launch of this new streaming sports service is a significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a major win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media business. This means the full suite of ESPN channels will be available to consumers alongside the sports programming of other industry leaders as part of a differentiated sports-centric service.”


Pricing and other details will be forthcoming. 


But one has to wonder if this type of joint venture will attract attention from Washington’s antitrust activist regulators.


Third, Gina Carano is back. But not in The Mandalorian. She’s in the courtroom, and Elon Musk is at her side. Carano is suing Disney for her firing from the streaming show, and Musk’s company X is funding the lawsuit, according to CNBC. As reported by CNBC: “The suit, which alleges wrongful discharge and sex discrimination, seeks Carano’s reinstatement in ‘The Mandalorian,’ and monetary damages for the loss of her past pay and her future employment as a result of her termination. Carano was booted from the series after she shared a post on Instagram and TikTok that implied conservatives in the U.S. were being treated like Jewish people in Nazi Germany.”


Finally, Disney has brought in a big thinker to help people with their board votes – Professor Ludwig Von Drake. The Hollywood Reporter noted: “The media and entertainment giant released an animated video Monday urging shareholders to vote, but only for the company’s preferred board members. The Austrian duck, who is uncle to Donald and an expert on many subjects in the Disney universe, guides the shareholders through the voting process that kicks off ahead of the April 3 shareholder meeting.”




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, the Alliance of Saint Michael novels, and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.


The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?


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