I just broke the news that Disney has staked a serious claim in social gaming — it just finalized its acquisition of Playdom for $563.2 million. Disney could pay the social gaming company an additional $200 million if Playdom hits certain performance metrics over the next few years.
With games on Facebook and MySpace like Mobsters, Social City, and Sorority Life, Playdom is the third largest social gaming company behind private Zynga and Playfish, which Electronic Arts bought for some $400 million last fall.
CEO Bob Iger told me in an exclusive interview that this gives Disney a key foothold into a fast-growing and profitable space.
Iger said that this acquisition "fills a strategic hole" in social gaming.
Though Disney could certainly use Playdom to create games to market Disney's many brands, Iger stressed to me that he sees Playdom as a stand-alone profitable business, saying "we see it as a growth opportunity from a bottom line perspective."
Ahead of Disney's earnings report, which is two weeks from today, Iger expressed some optimism about the state of the economy. He says that the ad market is stronger than it was a year ago and he continues to see signs that it's strengthening. Iger said there are still signs of fragility — the consumer is still waiting for bargains — but the economy continues to improve from where it was last year and in the first half of this year.
Iger wouldn't comment on its expected divestiture of Miramax, because of a confidentiality agreement.
Disney set tomorrow as the deadline for Colony Capital and Ronald Tutor to put a $40 million non-refundable payment towards the $675 million acquisition of the studio.
Sources tell me the payment is expected to come through tomorrow, and the deal could be finalized within days.
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