Disney Sports And Streaming Gains Help Company’s Upfront Sales Return To Last Year’s Revenue And Volume Levels

Disney has wrapped up its 2023-24 upfront sales process, with gains in sports and streaming helping it return to 2022 revenue and volume levels.

The media giant reported strong buyer interest in live events; addressable inventory across sports and entertainment, including Hulu and Disney+ ad tier; and programmatic and measurement offerings.

The upfront as an industry ritual has evolved from a straightforward pitch for a batch of heavily viewed watercooler shows to a jigsaw puzzles of platforms and properties and ads being served 24/7. Rather than a few short weeks after sellers’ annual presentations to advertisers in May, this year’s negotiations stretched out over two months, with the first reports of finalized results coming in July. Disruptions to traditional viewing and the rise of streaming have played out against turbulence in the broader economy, with stubbornly high inflation and interest rates complicating the task for advertisers looking to lure consumers.

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Disney said it secured single-digit increases in sports volume and pricing, noting rising demand for women’s sports. ESPN and ABC have garnered rising ratings for the WNBA and NCAA basketball and softball, among other properties.

More than 40% of upfront commitments were for streaming and digital buys, led by Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, the company said. Inclusion commitments, an increasing priority for media companies, were locked in from financial services, pharmaceutical, retail, tech and telecom brands.

Top-performing categories overall included consumer packaged goods, financial services, media & entertainment, pharmaceutical, sports gaming and travel & leisure, Disney said.

“Our investments in the most dynamic technology and streaming capabilities, coupled with the most enviable sports rights, powerful storytelling and impactful cultural moments, sets Disney apart,” said Rita Ferro, President of Advertising, Disney. “Our insights led approach and deep understanding of consumers continues to deliver growth for our clients, while deepening their connection to the most engaged audiences at scale.”

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