Giventhe strong advertising market, WaltDisney Co. CEO Bob Iger said the company is looking forward to a "robust"upfront.
"Thereis strong demand right now for television product and it's obviously evident inhow everybody is feeling about the upfront," Iger said, speaking during a May10 earnings conference call. "We see a very robust marketplace and a very strongupfront ahead, both for our broadcast network for ABC (US) and for ESPN (US). We are very encouraged with what we see, but weare not going to disclose what our strategy is going in."
Igerdid note, however, that the types of ads being sold are different.
"Justabout everything is on the table right now, including ad load and pricing and advertisingintegration into programming, as a for instance," he said. "And I thinkyou are going to see just a lot of shifting in terms of not only what we're sellingbut how advertisers are buying into all different kinds of television products."
For thecurrent quarter, ESPN ad sales are pacing up 5% versus prior year, and scatter pricingat the broadcast network is pacing 20% above upfront levels.
In othercompany news, Iger commented on the recent abrupt exit of former COO Thomas Staggs. Staggs had joined Disneyin 1990 as manager of strategic planning and worked his way up the company ladder,eventually serving as CFO before ultimately transitioning to COO. Many believedStaggs was being groomed to become Iger's successor.
"Obviously,[Staggs] was a valued colleague and a friend of mine and many others at the company,"Iger said, adding that he was sorry to see Staggs leave. "But we don't reallyhave much more to say about that."
Iger'sown contract is currently set to expire in June 2018. "I don't currently haveany plans to extend beyond the June expiration date," he said, adding thatthe company's board is actively engaged in searching to identify a successor.
Separately,Disney filed an automatic shelf registration statement on May 10 for the sale ofcommon stock from time to time in one or more offerings. The filing listed a proposedmaximum aggregate offering price of roughly $533.3 million for 5,148,105 shares,though the company noted that the registration statement might also cover an indeterminatenumber of shares of common stock that may be issued or become issuable in connectionwith stock splits, stock dividends, recapitalizations or similar events. In addition,the proposed aggregate offering price was estimated solely for the purposes of calculatingthe registration fee.