Disney CEO Bob Iger Says the Decline in Linear TV Can Be Addressed with “dramatically” Reduced Spending on Content - Latest Global News

Disney CEO Bob Iger Says the Decline in Linear TV Can Be Addressed with “dramatically” Reduced Spending on Content

In July 2023, Disney’s recently returned CEO Bob Iger shocked the media industry by suggesting he might be willing to divest the company’s declining linear assets. Last fall he changed his mind and declared it unsaleable. Since then, he’s explained why in interviews and phone calls – most recently at the MoffettNathanson media conference and during annual advance presentations to advertisers.

“When I came back I explained that everything was on the table. That said, I wanted to look at our asset base as a company and determine whether we are supporting assets that are not only not growing but are also dragging on our bottom line. I have studied traditional media in great detail. Our analysis was exhaustive. And ultimately we came to the conclusion that … it’s not going to be a growth business, but it could become an important part of our ability to fundamentally engage with the consumer,” Iger said during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday.

The key, he said, “is basically to pretty dramatically reduce our investment in content that’s specifically targeted to those traditional networks.” Invest in some, but then seamlessly manage the traditional platforms, networks and streaming Platforms. So it’s the same executives running both.” He’s referring to Disney Entertainment co-chair Dana Walden, who oversees the company’s entire portfolio of entertainment media, news and content businesses worldwide, including streaming, and Jimmy Pitaro , chairman of ESPN and Sports, which is now one of three separate Disney divisions.

“Their goal is to drive profit growth. So you would bet something on ABC –Grey’s Anatomy, Abbott Elementary School – and it’s moving along pretty quickly on Hulu. In some cases this happens simultaneously. And what we get is a distinctive audience,” with ABC being older and Hulu being younger. “Basically, we reach a larger audience and recoup the costs.”

Iger said the company does this across the board, from Disney Channel to ABC to National Geographic, “and it works.”

“We’re going to continue to see erosion… for these companies, but we’re actually going to continue to increase profitability because we’re managing our costs so effectively… And I think they’re going to play an important role.”

“We feel comfortable with our hands right now because we are using these networks efficiently and effectively.”

Earlier this week, Iger took the stage at the Disney/ABC upfront presentation for the first time since 1994 and reflected on how things have changed. “For example, television was something you used to watch on a television.” But he said, “Success in this industry really depends on one thing, and that’s telling great stories… And great storytelling is something that Disney excels at has always stood out.”

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