Posted Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 8:23a Pacific Time
Today Tom Staggs, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company participated in a question and answer session at the Merrill Lynch US Media Conference. Here is my minute by minute report
0:00 The question is the standard, "What are the strategic priorities of The Walt Disney Company?" I can type Tom's answer to this greatest hits question right now. Invest in quality content in the company's strategic brands, leverage new technologies and new platforms, expand content and brands internationally.
4:51 Shocking, I'm right
5:05 Question: "What are the brands?"
5:25 Answer: Disney and ESPN....DUH!
6:33 Topic: Upfront
6:52 Sounds like Tom thinks that advertisers will use Live+3 mostly, which means folks that watch it on DVR within 3 days count. This was a big battle last year, with Disney wanting to use Live+7,but settling with Live only.
9:59 Topic: Syndication
10:15 Tom doesn't think that the new platforms will kill the syndication buisness, but feels like growth in syndication will come from international markets. He also says there will be local programing made in international markets. He uses Secret of the Magic Gord as an example. The Chinese film will be released in that country this Summer.
14:30 When will political ad dollars start to come in?
14:52 End of the year, though he doesn't expect it to make as big a difference as it had in the past.
15:25 Topic: Disney Mobile
15:37 He says its had a good start, though it is still early.
17:46 Topic: ESPN Growth
18:19 He says it will be offset a little by the NASCAR contract, but he sees a robust ad market for ESPN
18:55 Topic: Disney Channel
19:14 Tom talks about how the Disney Channel is integrated with Disney's other divisions, which makes up for the fact that there is no advertising. Using High School Musical as an example, he says that High School Musical generated $100 million in revenue by leveraging it throughout the company.
21:40 Topic: Theme Parks
22:00 Disney had some benefit from the weak dollar. The theme parks have had strong attendence even compared to the 50th anniversary celebration.
23:42 Disneyland Paris is having a good year and may have its best year. He is pleased with the 15th anniversary celebration. He finds it interesting Disneyland Paris is doing well and the domestic parks also gained international visitors.
25:34 He says that the just agreed to union contract at WDW is just about what the expected.
26:52 Topic: Capital Expenditures at Theme Parks
27:13 He says that expenditures will go up, but will be bellow a billion dollars at domestic theme parks.
27:51 The interviewer asked if Shanghai will be the next location for a theme park.
28:36 He says he doesn't know where the next theme park will be, but Shanghai is a potential site. However, he said he needs an agreement that makes sense for Disney and China and doesn't see that happening anytime soon, but perhaps down the road.
30:31 Topic: Disney Studios
30:40 Tom talks about the streamlining of the studio and the focus on Disney branded films.
31:24 Topic: Potential Strikes
31:34 The WGA talks are first and will set the tone for the rest. Tom is optomistic that a deal will be made.
33:30 Topic: Video Games
33:38 He says he is focused on return on invested captal. They spent $100 million last year, and will spend $130 million this year. 90 percent will be under the Disney brand. Spectrobes shipped 700,000 units and we should expect a sequel.
35:18 Licensing will continue to be the biggest part of the consumer products buisness.
36:44 Topic: Internet Group
37:07 Disney is among the biggest among established media companies in regard to digital revenue.
39:19 Says he will look for acquasitions in this place in order to increase content and audience. He uses the acquasition of a NASCAR fan site as an example. Says Myspace wouldn't have fit with Disney while it works great for News Corp.
44:07 Audience Question Time
44:15 What will Disney do to weather a downturn at theme parks.
44:50 Tom feels theme parks are an underappreciated asset and that they have continued to perform well even in tough economic times by adjusting labor hours and park hours if the demand decreases.
47:09 Tom reminds us that the theme parks are a creative engine and as an example, Disney will be making a Jungle Cruise movie.
49:32 With just one audience question, the session ends.
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tags: Disney Mobile, Disney's Tron, Disneyland Paris, Disney Channel, ESPN, Disney's High School Musical, Disney Merchandise, Disney Movies, Other Disney Destinations, Disney TV