The Walt Disney Company Increases Presence In China With Sponsorship Of Country’S First NBA Games

BURBANK, Calif. and HONG KONG, July 28, 2004 – The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) will further enhance the presence of Disney in China this Fall through its relationship with the National Basketball Association. Disney will sponsor the first-ever NBA games staged in China when the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings play two preseason games originating from Shanghai and Beijing in October 2004, and ESPN will televise these games. This is part of Disney’s overall effort to expand internationally, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

“Introducing the magic of Disney to the world’s most populated nation is a truly thrilling and historic undertaking,” said Disney CEO Michael Eisner. “While this is an incredible opportunity for our company and our shareholders, it is also an important cultural milestone for the Chinese people, as we open the doors to entirely new worlds of fantasy, imagination and adventure.”

“The combined strength of Disney, ESPN and the NBA makes for a sports-entertainment powerhouse, and we’re pleased to bring them together for the first time ever in China,” said Bob Iger, Disney president and COO. “Both Disney and the NBA offer experiences that transcend cultural divides, which is why these exciting sporting events are the ideal platform for introducing Disney’s newest theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland.”

As part of the sponsorship, Hong Kong Disneyland will work with the NBA on a number of marketing activities to support the event. Hong Kong Disneyland also will have an in-stadium and courtside presence at the NBA games in China, as well as on

The historic NBA games – the first staged in China by an American professional sports league – will be televised live on ESPN Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 a.m. ET from Shanghai Stadium and late Saturday, Oct. 16, at midnight (Saturday at 9 p.m. PT) from Capital Stadium in Beijing. ESPN play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analyst Bill Walton will call the action. NBA China Games 2004 are part of the league’s continuing effort to support the development and growth of basketball in China.

These games will mark the first time Yao Ming returns to his native country with his NBA team, the Houston Rockets. In addition to the domestic telecasts, ESPN International will distribute the games to 100 countries and territories in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Additional international distribution is pending. Each game will be reaired: the event in Shanghai will be seen on ESPN2 Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and the contest from Beijing will be aired by ESPN Sunday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m.

Disney’s presence in China includes television programming, film, home entertainment products, live entertainment, consumer products, publishing, Internet properties, and in 2005/06 a theme park presence.

The Hong Kong Disneyland project was announced in November 1999 as a venture between Disney and the Hong Kong SAR Government. With the completion of reclamation for Hong Kong Disneyland Phase I by the Hong Kong SAR Government in December 2002, Disney began construction in January 2003 with the project scheduled to open in late 2005/ early 2006. The opening day program for Hong Kong Disneyland will include a theme park in the style of Disneyland Park and two hotels. The Phase I build-out includes a projected 10 million annual visitor theme park in the style of Disneyland Park, 2,100 hotel rooms, and an area for retail, dining and entertainment. The project is estimated to create 18,000 new jobs at opening (both Disney and other employment) growing to 36,000 once the first park reaches build-out. The Hong Kong SAR Government estimated that the first phase of the project will generate a present economic value of HK$148 billion (US$19 billion) in benefits to Hong Kong over a 40-year period. For more information, please refer to the Hong Kong Disneyland website at

Hong Kong Disneyland recently announced an agreement with Television Broadcasts Limited to launch a collaborative effort to bring the best of Disney’s entertainment to the people of Hong Kong. Under the collaboration, TVB Jade will air three exciting new Disney TV programs — Hong Kong Disneyland Fun Time, Hong Kong Disneyland Viva Club Disney and The Magical World of Disneyland, starting from July. The three series will bring Disney stories and magic to children and families in Hong Kong in the period leading up to the Park’s opening. The Magical World of Disneyland will debut on Saturday, July 31, on TVB Jade, broadcasting classic Disney animated films. Toy Story will lead off, making it the first Disney animated movie ever to be aired on TVB Jade. Other upcoming movies will include Dinosaur, Monsters Inc., and Beauty and the Beast. Prior to the airing of each film, Magical World of Disneyland will also take viewers behind the scenes to experience the magic of Disneyland Park, and how Walt Disney’s vision created a place that transports guests into a world of fantasy, imagination and adventure.

In June 2004, ESPN announced plans to launch of ESPN The Magazine in China later this year. Working with Vertex Group, ESPN will publish the Chinese-language edition monthly. The Magazine will be distributed in Mainland China, including Beijing and Shanghai, and in Hong Kong. The Chinese edition of ESPN The Magazine will offer a mix of original content targeted to the interests of sports fans in China, as well as material from the U.S. edition of The Magazine. Editorial is expected to include coverage of international, European, and Chinese soccer; international and Asian basketball leagues, as well as the NBA; professional golf; track and field events; auto racing; action sports; and more. The Magazine will be printed in simplified Chinese characters.

ESPN’s joint venture with Star Sports in Asia, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), continues to grow by providing first-class coverage of local and international sporting events most relevant to the markets it serves. Selected ESPN programming is distributed nationally in China via CCTV and other outlets and reaches an estimated 100 million households. ESPN is also available as a 24-hour network in Hong Kong and is transmitted in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

Disney Consumer Products entered the China market 12 years ago and has now expanded its retail presence to more than 25 cities to reach 25 million consumers with more than 690 Disney corners in China selling Disney-branded merchandise. The business is growing at a rapid rate and sales in China reached approximately US$128 million at retail in 2003. Disney is one of the leading children’s publishers in China and Mickey Mouse magazine is one of the most-read children’s comic magazines in China.

Mickey Mouse animation first appeared on CCTV in 1986. Its continuing popularity culminated in a unique relationship with CCTV1 to feature classic Disney animation, which returned to CCTV1 in 2001. Disney animation on CCTV1 recently obtained a 28% share in recent ratings, reaching more than 91.3 million children. Through close cooperation with CCTV-6, Disney has started to bring big blockbuster titles including 102 Dalmatians, Face Off, Armageddon and Shanghai Noon to Chinese viewers for the first time.

Disney has launched numerous television ventures across the Asian continent and continues to be on expansion mode. Disney Channel (DC) is now available in 11 countries and regions across Asia, with Japan launched on Nov. 18, 2003 and Hong Kong added in April 2004. There are four separate video feeds/services in the region — the DC Japan, DC Australian, DC Taiwan (Mandarin) and the DC Asia feed, which also has an English, Mandarin and Cantonese audio feed. In Korea, DC Asia also broadcasts with a Korean subtitling service.

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise which includes Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Consumer Products, television and radio stations and Internet web sites.