Walt Disney Co. offered investors their first glimpse at ESPN’s financials Wednesday with disclosures that struck one analyst as a “relief.” ESPN generated $12.6 billion in revenue during the nine months that ran through July 1, up from $12.3 billion in the comparable period a year before. The business brought in $1.9 billion in operating income during the same span, down from about $2.1 billion in the year-earlier span.
The ESPN breakout includes financials from Disney’s
eight domestic ESPN-branded television channels, along with ESPN on ABC, the ESPN+ streaming service and ESPN-branded international channels. The business sits within the sports segment of Disney’s newly recast financials. On the whole, the sports unit, which also includes Star-branded sports networks in India, brought in $13.2 billion in revenue for the nine months through July 1, compared with $13.4 billion in the same period a year prior. Operating income for the sports segment came in at $1.5 billion over the nine-month period, versus $1.8 billion a year earlier. “There’s perhaps more durability in ESPN’s top-line growth than expected,” Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall wrote. “The real test comes when ESPN launches DTC,” meaning the long-awaited streaming service for the flagship network. Don’t miss: ESPN’s ‘melting iceberg’ is yet another challenge for Disney, analyst says Cahall further noted that excluding Star, the sports business “is not declining at an overly precipitous rate.” Disney …