Morning Media Newsfeed: Disney Mulls Streaming Options | NYT Profit Falls

Disney reports record earnings, mulls streaming options. NYT profit falls amid digital push. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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Disney Exploring Streaming Options (Capital New York)
Disney is exploring ways to offer video streaming products directly to consumers, CEO Bob Iger told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday evening. Iger said Disney Channel, ESPN, Star Wars and Marvel are brands that could be offered “over-the-top” to consumers, particularly younger consumers that do not currently subscribe to traditional pay-TV bundles. Deadline This directly concerns Dish Network’s new Sling TV streaming service. Iger added that Disney is “mindful of the value of the expanded basic bundle to this company” and sees no reason to move quickly with an online product that might hurt the pay TV cash cow. THR Disney beat financial expectations by announcing Tuesday it earned $1.27 per share in its fiscal first quarter on $13.4 billion in revenue while analysts were predicting $1.07 per share on revenue of $12.9 billion. Variety Net income rose 19 percent to around $2.2 billion. Nearly every division at Disney reported double-digit profit gains during the three-month period that ended Dec. 27., with the exception of the media networks group, which reported a 3 percent gain in operating income on Tuesday. WSJ In addition to the success of Frozen, Disney’s record results in recent periods have been spurred by price increases at its domestic theme parks, higher sales at Disney Stores and strong ratings at the ESPN and ABC networks. Media Networks — Disney’s largest unit, which holds high-performing ABC along with Disney’s cable portfolio, including ESPN and A&E Television Networks — posted an 11 percent increase in revenue to $5.86 billion in the latest period, as higher affiliate fees and program sales at the broadcasting group offset higher production costs at ESPN.

New York Times Co. Profit Falls Despite Strides in Digital Ads (NYT)
The New York Times Company said on Tuesday that its annual operating profit declined in 2014 because of investments in digital journalism and severance costs from a round of job reductions. Revenue was flat as growth in digital advertising and circulation offset declines in its print business. FishbowlNY The company’s ad revenue for 2014 was flat compared to 2013; thanks in large part to sponsored content, growth in digital ads and an ever-increasing digital subscriber base. In an announcement, Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson said the company now has 910,000 digital subscribers. That’s up 150,000 since 2013. It also puts the Times on track to hit one million paid digital subscribers by next year. WWD / Memo Pad For the three months ended Dec. 28, net income dropped 46.9 percent to $34.9 million, or 22 cents a diluted share, from $65.6 million, or 41 cents a year ago. Total revenues inched up 0.2 percent to $444.7 million from $443.9 million. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The Times reported an operating profit of $62.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, a drop of $6.5 million from the same period the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the severance costs of staff reductions and to retirement costs. About 100 people accepted buyouts or were laid off in the last few months of 2014. The financial failure of the NYT Now and Opinion apps also contributed to the decrease.

Harper Lee to Publish Second Book (GalleyCat)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee has revealed plans to publish a second book. WSJ Lee ’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most successful and popular books of the 20th century. And until now, it was a stand-alone work. On Tuesday, HarperCollins Publishers said it would publish a second Harper Lee novel — titled Go Set A Watchman — on July 14. The publishing house said it expects to print 2 million copies, a lofty number, although that could change depending on actual orders. Variety Watchman was originally written before Mockingbird, and features the bestseller’s protagonist, Scout, as an adult. Set during the mid-1950s, it features many of the characters from Mockingbird some 20 years later. Mediaite In a statement, Lee explained why Watchman had been written before Mockingbird, and said that she thought the manuscript had been lost: “I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it.”