Barron’s: The new streaming service brings opportunity but also uncertainty. How do you manage that transition?
Iger: Not doing anything, really, creates more uncertainty than this. I can imagine other companies in other industries in similar positions in the past 50 years. Eastman Kodak (KODK) watching the advent of digital photography probably comes to mind the most. It became very clear that what we were observing was real, sustainable. Sweeping, permanent, profound transformation.
What I posed to my senior team and ultimately to the board was, “We can’t sit back and let this happen.” I can also see a component of the failure of companies to innovate. What sets in is, one, this sense it’s a speed bump, but two, we have durability. We’ve gone through economic crises, the global impact of terrorism. You can go all the way back in the 95-year history of the company. There was war, the Great Depression. Here we are 95 years later. But this felt like our ability to endure was going to be solely tied to our ability to transform ourselves, and not pursue [a strategy of] “We’re going to get through this, it’s a storm that’s passing overhead, and when it clears we’ll be fine.” We have to be different when that storm clears. We can’t be the same.
The big question: What is Disney’s plan for Hulu?
Updated Hulu ownership:
1) Disney: 60%
2) Comcast: 30%
3) WarnerMedia: 10%
A potential strategy for Disney:
1) Disney+ → Families/Kids
2) ESPN+ → Sports
3) Hulu → Adults
The digital video world as if it were Game of Thrones:
1) House Netflix — The White Walkers
2) House Disney — The Starks
3) House Amazon — The Lannisters
4) House Warner — The Iron Bank of Braavos
5) House Comcast — The Tyrells
6) House Apple — The Targaryens
More #1: Disney+ angling for anchor tenancy