Date: 10th November 2000

The Mouse Runs Down The Clock

Shares in the Walt Disney Company took a nosedive Thursday, closing 15 percent lower to $31.06 amid concerns of lower advertiser spending, a 20-percent slide in the ratings for ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and a downgrade of the stock by a top entertainment analyst, Jessica Reif-Cohen of Merrill Lynch, who noted in particular that "the audience for Millionaire is skewing significantly older."

But Disney President and COO Robert Iger, in an interview with Bloomberg Radio, suggested that Reif-Cohen's comments were "premature." Iger observed: "Regarding the Millionaire, just look at the performance of the program last night (Wednesday) where it aired at 8:00, won its time period handily in adults 18 to 49, up substantially from its prior performance and beat two programs that are considered pretty strong." Iger acknowledged that ABC has been forced to give advertisers on the program make-goods because of lower ratings, but he expressed confidence that "the ratings are going to pick up and it's not nearly the liability that Jessica suggested."

Source: Studio Briefing