Jay Rasulo says output pact was 'highest value deal' for studio

Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo said Netflix execs “weren’t the only people we talked to” before planting an exclusive output deal with video streaming company but otherwise offered no color on the industry-shaking three-year exclusive pact announced Tuesday.

“We made it, and we feel pretty confident that this was the highest value deal that we could do and we are thrilled to do it,” he told investors at the UBS Media conference in Gotham.

He said the studio will be making several films a year each from Disney and Pixar animation, Marvel and Disney live action, with something every few years from recently acquired LucasFilm. While Wall Streeters often press him to put a target size on the studio he said Disney is mostly concerned with the return for each individual movie. Given the plunge in DVD sales, that return can only be assured nowadays by parks, toys and other revenue streams.

“If you put out a movie that does not have life somewhere else, you have a hard time getting a rate of return that I am happy with and that any of you would be happy with,” he told investors.

It’s been “a fundamental reduction of the slate around powerhouse” names and the studio is wiling to commit big bucks to make them big. “Even if the negative costs go up, you want the product to be great. You’re competing with great product out there.”

Rasulo said advertising sales at powerhouse ESPN are slightly ahead of where they were a year ago. He declined to comment on ad pacings for the ABC television network post elections.

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