ABC Profits Fall in Fall Despite Hits


According to the latest The Walt Disney Co. quarterly report, ABC continued to be a drag on profits in the first fiscal quarter of 2005, which is actually the last calendar quarter of 2004.

In fact, ABC TV profits were even lower than the previous October-December period of 2003--down about $8 million. Wait a minute, wasn't the last calendar quarter of 2004 the same time that ABC was boasting two of its biggest hits since Millionaire--Desperate Housewives and Lost?

Yep, but unfortunately for ABC, the vast majority of its ad time in prime time--more than 90%--was sold last spring, when ABC had no idea the shows would strike such a chord.

Back in May, when ABC was still getting beaten like a drum in the prime time ratings, it sold spots in nighttime soap Desperate Housewives for $115,000.

It's not surprising it wasn't expecting to shoot the moon with the new show, since there hadn't been a nighttime adult soap on the networks in a while. Today, those same spots are going for more than three times that much, or about $350,000 a pop.

Now, if our calculator hasn't been tampered with, that would mean if ABC knew then what it knows now, it could have gotten almost a quarter million bucks more for each 30. That means another 16 minutes of network commercial time, or a couple of show's worth, would have wiped out that $8 million drop.

Disney is still looking to clean up with Housewives, suggesting last week the company would generate double-digit earnings growth in 2005 partly on the strength of ABC's hits.