There are times when it is important to remember that The Walt Disney Company is more than just Theme Parks and a Hollywood engine. Now appears to be one of those times, and it appears that The Mouse House is happy to rely on its sports side for some positive news.
Disney’s broadcasting subsidies ABC and ESPN will each be airing their own Monday Night Football game tonight, ushering in what promises to be next-level potential for advertising revenue as the overlapping games will be broadcasted on ESPN, ESPN 2, ABC, and ESPN+.
According to Deadline, “Disney, along with Paramount Global, NBCUniversal, Fox, and Amazon, signed up for a record-smashing $110 billion rights deal for NFL games over the next 11 years. As a part of the new contract, the number of annual Monday night games went from 17 to 23.”
The most important factor for Disney in this situation is advertising revenue. Deidra Maddock, VP of Disney Advertising Sports Brand Solutions, explained that 90% of the ad space for Monday Night Football alone (be it traditional commercial space or otherwise) was sold upfront. Reports show that Disney earned almost $320 million in ad revenue just on Monday Night Football in 2021, the audience engagement for “Week 1” of the 2022 season was the highest recorded since 2009, and viewers of the September 12 games were 68% more likely to search brands and products advertised than viewers seeing ads on any other prime time network or program.
“It really does emphasize the power of live sports,” said Danielle Brown, SVP, Disney Advertising Data Enablement & Category Strategy. She also believes that the end of the Pandemic and the chance to see normal games is also playing a factor in the increase.
“The return of somewhat to normalcy has driven the interest,” she said. “Having a full crowd is really meaningful to viewers.”
Many may argue–and have–that The Walt Disney Company is not a sports-oriented company. But it does not appear to be trying to be one. The Powers that Be in the Mouse House right now understand that professional sports come with some of the most profitable ad space today, which generates a steady cashflow that Disney’s Theme Parks have not been able to arguably provide with scores of projects years overdue, more multimonth closures of Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland, and dissatisfaction from loyal fans.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek took the opportunity to double down the company’s commitment to ESPN, emphasizing it is “about the power of sport and the advertising business.”
This news falls at a time when Disney’s flagship streaming service, Disney+, prepares to launch an ad-supported tier of its own, promising the flow of even more ad revenue on top of the subscription price increases.
While Chapek still has his global subscriber goals in play, it is clear he is ready to use ad space to maximize profits over the subscribers and viewers Disney already has.
The Walt Disney Company currently holds broadcasting rights to not just the National Football League but also the National Hockey League, College Football, Formula 1, and more.
We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney news and stories as more developments come to light.