9 Questions for Disney’s Investor Day 2020 – Part 3 of 3

Here is the final part of our three part series. The italicized intro is from yesterday, followed by questions 7-9 (and a bonus).

This Thursday The Walt Disney Company will make their annual presentation to their investors at their “Investor Day 2020.” While Disney tends to make its splashiest and more exciting announcements regarding theme parks, major film franchises, and their most popular properties at their D23 Expo. These investor presentations are aimed more for… well, investors, and less toward the casual fan. However, we know that there are big projects that need to be announced soon and this Thursday may provide the perfect opportunity.

Here are the final questions we hope to get answered Tomorrow:

Disney CEO Bob Chapek

7. With the major focus being on Direct-to-Consumer (Disney+, Hulu, Hotstar) will they even address the theme parks, cruise line, or live theater?

From all indications, tomorrow’s Investor Day event will be heavily focused on Disney’s DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) division. This encompasses primarily their streaming services, which intrinsically involves their cable and network programming like ABC, ESPN, FX, and more. Since so many changes to streaming affects their network and broadcast channels.

In 2019 the company spent the entire event talking about this division, but then again they were introducing and launching the entire Disney+ service. So they presented what it looked like, what the interface was like, and what decisions they had made for initial content.

Also, their 2019 event was just over two hours long, tomorrow’s event is expected to be over four hours. Which leaves a lot of room for other topics. 

So will Disney touch the theme parks, live entertainment, and cruise line? If the event was only two hours I would say no. The reason is because they have a lot of bright, exciting, and optimistic news to share about their streaming plans and they have to address the issue of movie theater releases. Parks, live events, and cruises are not a real exciting thing to share right now. While they bring in an incredible amount of money that these new projects need, they are not doing that right now. Investors know that and they aren’t expecting to hear any good news from the parks.

So while they may present some indications that there is a lot of buzz surrounding the Disney World 50th anniversary with late 2021 reservations ticking up, I couldn’t imagine anything more than that. But we will see.

Investors like to hear news that they can use to make investing decisions. By that I mean, they like to hear news that is reliable and consistent. The two things that Covid-19 has done to the Disney Parks is made their operating ability not reliable and not consistent. I hope they dive into them a bit, but I have a feeling they will be casually mentioned or even just ignored.

8. Other than Radio Disney, will the company be shutting down any other well-known, but outdated, media outlets? 

It was announced earlier this month that Radio Disney will be coming to an end by the end of this month. Radio Disney was apart of the Disney General Entertainment Content Division. This division encompasses Walt Disney Television (ABC basically), FX Networks, ABC News, National Geographic, and “Disney Branded Television.” Even though it was a radio service, Disney Radio fell into this group, “Disney Branded Television. Along with Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Disney Television Animation, and It’s a Laugh Productions. 

While the closing of Radio Disney was sad to see, it wasn’t a complete shock. Times are changing and some areas of the company will become obsolete either by changing technology, changing customer demands, or changing directions of the company.

Knowing this, will we hear of any other well known segments of the company getting shut down? Does Disney really need ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Freeform? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that list gets chopped down sometime soon. Especially with consumers cutting cords with their cable providers at alarming rates. 

There are many divisions of the company that know that the question is not if they will be dissolved, it is when they will be dissolved. Will tomorrow be that day for some of them? We shall see. 

9. How much did the 2020 Election benefit ABC News and what changes will we see with their online and streaming presence?

I know that this answer could be determined simply by reviewing the publicly available ratings data, but I feel like there was more than just a jump in viewership. Disney CFO Christine McCarthy made a comment about how much the elections had boosted their news division in the last call with investors in November. I noted she didn’t simply say that the ratings got a bump and she left it hanging as if she had more to share about it. Which makes sense, as the election was over, but the long fallout from it was just beginning.

Then we got word that they let go of a healthy number of ABC news employees, including some on-air personalities, which caught my eye. I know their morning program Good Morning America and their evening news program World New Tonight with David Muir are consistently number one in the ratings, along with their Sunday political show This Week with George Stephanopoulos. 

I did scan the most recent reports that showed the top 20 visited news websites and abcnews.com was in the mid teens, right next to cbsnews.com. The top spots were littered with the well known CNN, Google News, New York Times, and the conservative news aggregation site DrugeReport. NBC News beat out the network news, but that has to be strengthened by their relationship with MSNBC. While MSNBC has their own news website, NBCNews.com is often quoted and linked to from the cable juggernaut. 

So it will be interesting to see the impact the election had on the news division and if they are going to think of modernize how they distribute the news. They seem to have the upper hand with their network tentpoles, but it appears there online presence could use some work.

A QUICK BONUS QUESTION…

How will the market respond to the announcements?

The presentation will be taking place after the markets close for the day, so we will get some indication from overnight trading numbers. But those will just show a trend, it won’t show us how big of a thumbs up or how big of a thumbs down. For that we will have to wait for Friday morning’s opening bell. 

Financial data analysis graph showing stock market trends on a trading board. Horizontal composition with copy space and selective focus.

Remember, this Investor Day event is aimed at pleasing the investors so a jump in the stock price the next day is the goal. It is not some side benefit to look at, the entire presentation is to make the market happy and the way they show they are happy is by raising the price of the stock.

So we will just have to wait and see.

TOMORROW IS THE BIG DAY. Thursday December 10th, at 4:30PM EST 1:30PM PST

The entire DisInsider team is going to be covering the entire four hour long event, so you won’t miss anything. I will be live tweeting the entire thing over on my Twitter account @SeanNyberg … so you can scroll through and catch any announcement you care about. The websites Twitter @theDisInsider will be releasing stories throughout the whole event. So you’ll want to keep an eye on that one too. Between us two and the website you’ll be all set.

After the event, Thursday evening, I will record an episode of my Disney news podcast The Disney Beat Podcast, where I will explain what happened at the event, what is actually important and of course, read the tea leaves about any hints they dropped for future projects. So go check that out late Thursday night or Friday morning. It is available on all major (and minor) podcast hosting apps.

See you on one of the many twitter accounts, website, and podcast tomorrow. It should be an intersting and informative day.

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