Disney Announces Gaming and Sports Part of Growth Strategy

The Walt Disney Company announced revenue of $23.5 billion for the quarter ending December 31, essentially consistent year-over-year, while net income was up 49 percent to $1.91 billion year-over-year. CEO Bob Iger amplified plans to bring the company “to a period of sustained growth.” Following news that ESPN plans to partner on a new sports streaming platform, Iger disclosed a $1.5 billion investment in “Fortnite” creator Epic Games that will see the companies “collaborate on an all-new games and entertainment universe.” He also revealed Disney+ will exclusively stream Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” concert film.

“Football, ‘Fortnite’ and Taylor Swift — the new, rebuilt Disney that Bob Iger has been promising investors and fans is coming into focus,” reports The Wall Street Journal, adding that Iger’s vision “will embed the entertainment giant further into the American pop-culture psyche” as he unites Mickey Mouse and the worlds of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and “Avatar” with more big brands in contemporary entertainment.

Disney’s investment in Epic will give it “an equity stake in Epic Games alongside the multiyear project” of building a new gaming universe, Disney said in an announcement. Though neither Disney nor the privately held Epic disclosed the size of Disney’s stake, The Information reported it at 9 percent, which would translate to a valuation of about $22.5 billion for the gaming company.

In an announcement, Iger called the investment “Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games,” with “significant opportunities for growth.”

Variety writes that minutes before the earnings call, Iger told CNBC that the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, “could also include ‘physical goods that will live alongside ‘Fortnite’ but be completely interconnected.”

“The new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories” that Disney owns, the company said, adding that “players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences” and “share content with each other.”

Swift brings her concert film to Disney+ on March 15 with new content not in the theatrical release or digital purchase release, Disney says in an earnings announcement. As for the new sports streaming joint venture, set for launch this fall, it was announced ahead of the Disney earnings.

ESPN Aims to Launch Standalone Streamer by Fall 2025, Variety, 2/7/24
Disney’s $60 Billon Parks Expansion to Include ‘Every Single’ Location, Bob Iger Says, The Wrap, 2/7/24

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