There is good news and bad news for Big Entertainment today. First, the actors’ strike is over, which means that film and TV production can finally resume. Yippee! Second, the September quarter results from Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery on Wednesday that both are getting streaming losses under control. (In WBD’s case, it’s to make money!). The bad news for the industry, however, is that TV advertising is in free fall.
But as CEOs like to do, Disney’s Bob Iger and WBD’s David Zaslav emphasized the positive. On separate calls with analysts — before the strike news — both talked about all the work they’d done over the past year to overhaul and cut costs, and how they’re now able to pivot to expansion. Iger called it going from “a period of repair to a new era of construction,” while Zaslav talked about WBD having the chance to “fight to grow in the next year.” Still, the overall picture for the two companies is bleak. WBD achieved top-line growth of just 1%, while Disney’s entertainment businesses fared only marginally better, up 1.8%, both due to streaming price increases. Revenue from the old-school TV business, their biggest source of profit, fell for both, reflecting continued cord-cutting and advertising declines.