Disney CEO touts new iTunes movie downloads

Iger says iTunes sold 125,000 movie downloads; more films soon to be added to online catalog.
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Published: September 20, 2006, 8:28 AM PDT

story at http://news.com.com/Disney+CEO+touts...tag=html.alert

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Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger on Tuesday said the company sold 125,000 movie downloads worth $1 million in revenue through Apple Computer's iTunes online music store in the first week Disney movies were offered.
Iger told a conference of analysts the company expects to take in $50 million in added revenue during the first year of the iTunes movie download program, which was unveiled by Apple on Sept. 12.

Disney last week became the first movie studio to offer movie downloads through iTunes. The company placed 75 titles, such as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" and "National Treasure," on the Web site.

Iger said the number of films on iTunes would increase as Disney clears the broadcast rights to move them to the Web.

Iger told analysts at a Goldman Sachs conference that Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is Disney's largest shareholder and a board member, has become a "sounding board" for Disney's rapidly expanding digital content delivery options.

"He is a great adviser and someone I can turn to readily for advice in a lot of these areas," Iger said.

The Disney CEO declined several requests for forecasts for the company's four business units but said he expected the parks and resorts division to "do as well this quarter as we did ... a year ago," and that a recent increase in single-day park passes had not affected the sector's business.

He said the company's licensing business "is in a good place" and now investing in video games, and the ABC network "has some challenges ahead in terms of new programs" because some of its new shows did not attract as much advertising revenues as the company would have liked.

Iger said, however, that the TV network's spot ad sales--or scatter markets, as they are commonly called--were above previously booked advance sales, or upfronts, and that the network had a good mix of inventory to offer advertisers.

Iger reiterated previous forecasts that cable TV powerhouse ESPN would deliver double-digit average growth through 2009, and said the newly reorganized studio division expected strength from upcoming DVD releases of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "Cars," and the 2007 release of a third "Pirates" film.

"We feel good about '07 but (have) no specific guidance," Iger said.
Some analysts expect Disney's growth to cool in 2007 as it absorbs restructuring charges from strategic changes Iger made during his first year at the helm of the No. 2 U.S. entertainment company.

Iger said Disney stood to benefit from further content sales through its Apple partnership when the computer company rolls out a device, code-named iTV, in the first quarter of 2007 that allows consumers to stream movies, music, photos, podcasts and TV shows from the Web to home media systems.

Disney will place its content on other digital platforms but "we are choosy in terms of partners we pick," Iger said. "We have to believe the platform is going to work."

The company also is positioning itself to take advantage of what it believes will be substantial growth in online display advertising, Iger said.

"We see display (advertising) achieving parity with search (advertising), bringing it into $10 billion range," Iger said.[/quote]