Disney CEO Bob Iger joined me and Maria Bartiromo for a first on CNBC interview following Disney's better-than-expected earnings.
After our on-air interview Iger kept talking, for a CNBC.com exclusive. With Disney's broad perspective on the consumer, between its parks, consumer products, and movie division, I asked Iger what his outlook is on the Economy for 2013. He said his outlook for Europe is "dim," and that for Asia he thinks Disney is well positioned. But it's the US where he's most optimistic, saying his outlook is "quite good."
"For the parks we had five weeks in a row of improved bookings over a year ago in Orlando, that's a pretty interesting pattern. I mentioned [our] cruise ships being 80 percent booked with 16 percent more capacity than we had a year ago, that's a very good sign. So I would say that as we look ahead to the year, from a consumer perspective, I'd say more positive than not."
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Iger says that consumer was hit by various factors in this past quarter: "Consumer confidence was an issue, the election, the fiscal cliff, the hurricane which set things on their side for a bit even from an advertising perspective." Iger says these various factors didn't have a "terrible impact," and though there are still "issues about the deficit," that it's good that those issues are in the past.
And the improved outlook is also being felt in advertising revenues. In this past quarter ABC and both ESPN's ad revenue were both "affected a bit by some ratings softness," Iger says. But since then he says advertising has picked up nicely." ESPN's advertising is running about 7 percent ahead of where it was last year, Iger says. "We feel much better about the advertising market now than we did during the quarter we just announced."
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Iger also weighed in on the company's improving digital division, saying that it's "off to a good start" on its goals of being profitable for the year. Iger says the division is doubling down on the areas that are growing, mobile games in particular. "The wheels are in motion to deliver profitably on a more sustained business," Iger said.