Iger sees business improving for Disney/ABC


“Visibility isn’t all that great,” he notes, but Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger told the UBS 37th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York that business is looking better. Like his CBS Corporation counterpart, Les Moonves, Iger noted that scatter pricing for the TV network business is up sharply over the Upfront.

Iger told the investor gathering that scatter is up double digits for ABC Television, agreeing with Moonves’ comment of the previous day that the average is probably around 25%. But Iger added that in some cases it is “substantially higher than that.”

Asked about retransmission consent negotiations, Iger struck a someone different tone than we’ve been hearing from CBS, NBC, Fox and the affiliate group owners. That may be because Disney, by virtue of ESPN, already gets the biggest check cut by virtually every cable and satellite TV company. Iger noted that past negotiations have bundled the various programming services from Disney together for retrans payments, but he said this time there will be more of a focus on being paid specifically for the ABC O&O television stations.

Asked whether Disney expected to receive retransmission consent fees only for the O&O stations, or a cut from their affiliates in their retrans deals with the MSOs, Eiger replied that “ultimately it will be both.”

RBR-TVBR observation: A rising tide lifts all ships. The most important thing coming out of the UBS conference this week is that everyone says the advertising climate is improving. Even the newspaper guys were saying that, and if their nearly sunk ship is finally starting to show signs of floating, you know better days are ahead.

The battle over who gets what from the retrans pie is real, but it will no doubt be easier for the parties to come to terms when they’re not negotiating from a position of wondering whether their business is going to remain viable.