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Walt Disney CEO: We're crawling out of a soft ad cycle

The television advertising business remains a challenging environment, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC on Wednesday, though it does not amount to a long-term concern at the media giant.

"The environment for advertising isn't great right now," Iger said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street." "It's not terrible, but it's not great...We're in somewhat of a soft cycle, but I'm getting a sense that we're just crawling out it."

Read MoreDisney sings happy tune as earnings top estimates

The rest of Disney's business wasn't that soft. The blockbuster animated film "Frozen" cooked up better-than-expected profits at Walt Disney during the last quarter, which ended in March. The fairy tale film helped operating income at Disney quadruple, thanks to strong home video sales.

On a conference call Tuesday evening, Iger said Disney would increase the presence of "Frozen" characters at theme parks and other media, such as video games.

A "Frozen" future?

On Wednesday, Iger told CNBC that he likened the "Frozen" franchise to its other long-lasting products, even the iconic cartoon character that put Disney on the map: Mickey Mouse. With proper support, the "Frozen" franchise could flourish like Disney's Marvel superhero movies and "The Lion King"'s run on Broadway, for example, Iger said.

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"Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, and he's still one of our most popular characters" Iger said. "People are downloading Mickey Mouse shorts on the Internet fairly regularly. … We now believe that when you have something as good as 'Frozen' in today's world and you treat it well ... there's no reason why it can't keep going. It's not a fad."

Asked when audiences can expect to see a "Frozen" sequel, Iger told CNBC: "We want a great story first. Then we'll decide to make a sequel."

Iger on Star Wars and Dish Network deal

"Frozen" isn't the only franchise Disney wants to bank on. It recently announced the cast for its planned "Star Wars" sequels, bringing back fan favorites Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill. The new film—Episode VII in the franchise's official canon—is scheduled for release in December 2015.

In his interview on CNBC, Iger commented on rumors among the Star Wars faithful that Lucasfilm plans to name the film, "The Ancient Fear." He added that the well-documented fervor of Star Wars fans surprised him.

"So far, we're only calling it Star Wars VII," Iger said. "When we're ready we'll tell everyone what the name of it is. In time, we'll give Star Wars fans everything that they want. But the most important thing is we give them a great movie and that's what everyone here is concentrating on."

Read More'Star Wars: Episode VII' cast unveiled

In March, Disney reached a landmark deal with Dish Network to stream Disney-owned networks such as ABC and ESPN to computers, smartphones and tablets.

The deal was a first in the TV industry. Before, content owners have not allowed TV or satellite operations to sell their shows outside paid subscription plans.

Iger would not disclose details about the product, and said it was designed to attract people who aren't already subscribing for multi-channel video. He called it a "starter kit" that would help Dish up-sell other packages.

Skeptics of the deal suspect it would make "cord-cutting" easier for digital natives who opt for broadband connections to watch video over cable TV subscriptions.

"I can't go into details but it's not going to be as robust as a product that might be available if you were to subscribe to an expanded basic service," Iger said.


—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Reuters contributed to this report.

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