Sports Driving Force Behind Disney’s Revenue Boost

    • 40% of Disney upfront ad commitments went to streaming.
    • The media company inked deals with the NHL, NFL and MLB this year.

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Disney released its finalized upfront negotiations, showcasing its dedication to streaming live sports and a significant boost in advertising revenue. 

The Mouse — which owns streaming services Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu — saw more than 40% of upfront ad commitments go to streaming.

Hulu’s ad revenue is expected to reach $3 billion this year, on par with Disney’s linear networks. The ESPN+ subscriber base grew 75% year-over-year to 13.8 million in the first quarter.

“We led with streaming this year,” said Rita Ferro, president of Disney advertising sales. “You always hear how broadcast leads in the upfront, and we saw an opportunity this year to change that, and we did well.”

In May, Ferro said an upfront priority of Disney’s was “leaning into the unrivaled breadth and depth of our sports portfolio.” In the last year, the Mouse has done just that.

  • Announced a seven-year deal with the NHL for linear and streaming platforms, reportedly worth $400 million per season.
  • Inked an 11-year deal with the NFL that includes two Super Bowls, more regular-season games and a playoff game for $2.7 billion per year.
  • Began a seven-year deal with MLB for roughly $550 million per year.
  • ESPN+ bought rights to the English- and Spanish-language coverage of LaLiga at $175 million per year.

We’re committed to sports because we value live sports, which drives viewers and interest like nothing else,” CEO Bob Chapek said at a conference.