Before Disney clinched a pact with Netflix to develop series built around four Marvel characters, the Mouse House approached other distributors including Amazon.com, Hulu and pay-TV operators, CFO Jay Rasulo said at an investor conference.
Disney’s deal with Netflix on the Marvel series came after a larger output deal the companies struck in late 2012, which includes exclusive pay-TV window rights for films starting in 2016.
However, Rasulo said, “I wouldn’t call (Netflix) our go-to SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) partner,” pointing out that Disney has distributed content through Amazon and Hulu as well.
“With Marvel we spoke to many, many other distributors other than Netflix,” he said, speaking at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York. “Whether we go to iTunes, the MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors), networks or insurgents like Netflix and Amazon — we are out there playing the field.”
As for why Disney chose to pact with Netflix rather than put another Marvel TV show on its own networks, Rasulo said, “We were ready to look outside our own networks into another form of distribution… We feel very strongly that it’s going to be good for us and good for Netflix.”
Meanwhile, Rasulo was asked about the likelihood of a virtual pay-TV provider making an entrance in 2014. He responded that “I think a virtual MVPD is coming; I don’t know if it’s this year.”
At the UBS conference Monday, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman offered a more confident prediction that such a virtual pay-TV service will launch next year.
Disney would “certainly be happy to license our content to a virtual MVPD,” he said. But an Internet TV distributor would have to buy the full complement of Disney cable programming, and also reach agreements with other media conglomerates to have a lineup akin to existing packages, before Disney would give the green light, Rasulo said.
“Today we believe the MVPD system… is still the most valuable way the product can be offered to consumers,” he said.
Also at the conference, Rasulo said Disney expects to engage in selective acquisitions in the future, but said there’s nothing on the scale of Lucasfilm or Marvel on the horizon. “We can continue on the path of using acquisitions opportunistically,” he said.