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Disney sees operating income growth at cable networks

The signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank, California, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser
The signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank, California, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's cable networks are expected to record high single-digit growth in operating income and domestic affiliate revenue from fiscal 2014 through 2016, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told investors on Thursday.

"We feel very good about the long-term growth of our cable business," Rasulo said at a meeting for investors at its the company's ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

Disney's cable operations reported $6 billion in operating income, a 6 percent increase, for the 2013 fiscal year ended September 28. The unit includes sports channel ESPN, the Disney Channel, ABC Family and others.

The company may make more deals that allow pay-TV providers to offer Disney-owned networks over the Internet and outside of a traditional TV subscription, Rasulo said. Dish Network Corp reached an agreement with Disney in March to offer that type of "over-the-top" package.

The Dish deal "is very unlikely to be the last," Rasulo said.

Disney recently renewed distribution deals with eight of the top 10 U.S. pay-TV operators, he said. It expects to reach agreements by year end with the other two -- satellite TV provider DirecTV and the National Cable Television Cooperative, which negotiates programming deals on behalf of more than 950 small U.S. cable operators.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Edited by Ronald Grover, Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler)

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