×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bob Iger: Disney to Steer Content to New Streaming Service, Not Dependent on Fox Deal

Disney’s plan to launch a direct-to-consumer entertainment streaming service does not hinge on completing its deal to acquire key 21st Century Fox TV and film assets.

Bob Iger, speaking with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday about the company’s fiscal second quarter earnings, said the pending $52.4 billion buyout would enhance Disney’s offering. But the streaming service was envisioned prior to the Fox deal coming together and will be rooted in content carrying Disney’s gold-plated imprints: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and “Star Wars.”

“It’s not dependent at all on the assets we’re buying from Fox,” Iger said. He emphasized that Disney is committed to making the bulk of its film and TV library available exclusively on its proprietary streaming service in order to make sure it is a must-have for families. That marks a significant investment from Disney in the decision to forgo third-party licensing coin.

“It has to become the destination to watch Disney, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ and Pixar product,” Iger said. “That means ultimately weaning ourselves of product being available any other place except for (first-run) linear channels.”

The fate of Disney’s deal to buy 21st Century Fox has grown murkier in the past week as Comcast is taking steps to mount an all-cash counterbid that could put pressure on Disney to sweeten the terms of its all-stock takeover of 20th Century Fox, FX Networks, National Geographic Global Networks, and Fox’s regional sports networks.

Iger said content from the Nat Geo channels would be a natural fit with the Disney-branded streaming service. Fox’s regional sports cablers will also be boon to the ESPN Plus sports streaming service that launched last month. But he reiterated that both services were conceived before the Fox assets were in the picture.

Disney’s family-focused streaming service will launch by the end of 2019. The timing is dictated in part by the end of Disney’s theatrical output deal with Netflix, in order to ensure that recent Disney titles will have their pay-TV window on Disney’s service. Disney also needs time to develop original content for the service. Iger said more details on the original content plan will be revealed “in the coming months.”

“We’re feeling quite good about the direction we’re headed there,” Iger said. “We’re looking for quality over quantity. Not massive amounts of content. We’re looking for high-quality content utilizing those (Pixar, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ and Disney) brands and franchises, and the characters that fall into those brands.”

Iger did not address the potential for a showdown with Comcast over the 21st Century Fox assets, nor did he address Comcast’s bid to buy out the Sky satellite platform. Disney is set to acquire Fox’s 39% stake in Sky, or more if Fox’s acquisition of the remainder of Sky is completed before the Disney-Fox acquisition is final. Comcast’s $31 billion bid for all of Sky has thrown a wrench in Fox’s plans for Sky. Fox sought to buy up the remainder of Sky for about $15 billion but the deal, first struck in December 2016, has been under heavy fire from U.K. lawmakers and bogged down in a regulatory review.

Regarding Sky’s role in the global streaming businesses Disney hopes will be the engine of future growth, Iger would only say that he has been impressed with the technology and infrastructure Sky has built in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and Italy.

“A platform that can bring product to consumers in a very, very user-friendly and efficient way and monetize it in the process is something we think is attractive,” he said. 

POPULAR ON VARIETY:

More Biz

  • Jackie Knobbe

    UTA Hires Agent Jackie Knobbe to Comedy Touring Division

    UTA has hired Jackie Knobbe as an agent in its comedy touring division, Variety has learned. Knobbe joins UTA after almost 20 years at APA, where she was a partner and co-head of comedy touring. She will bring a strong roster of touring comedy clients with her to the agency, including Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Black, Jeanne Robertson [...]

  • Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior

    Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior VP of Promotion

    Danny Cooper has been named senior vice president of promotion at Arista Records, it was announced today by John Boulos, the label’s executive VP of promotion. In this role, Cooper will work closely with Boulos in all areas of promotion across genres, and oversee Arista’s promotion staff throughout the U.S. He is based in Los [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Media Organizations Seek Access to Key Harvey Weinstein Hearing

    A group of media organizations asked a New York judge on Monday to allow public access to a critical hearing in the Harvey Weinstein criminal case. The disgraced producer is scheduled to go on trial on June 3 on five charges of rape and sexual assault involving two alleged victims. Prosecutors have filed a motion [...]

  • Delta Air Lines celebrates Grammy Weekend

    Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Zedd to Headline iHeartMedia Wango Tango Concert

    Jonas Brothers, Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Zedd, Ally Brooke (with special guest Tyga), Ava Max, Fletcher and Tomorrow X Together will perform at iHeartMedia’s annual Wango Tango concert at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles (formerly StubHub Center) on June 1. Freeform will broadcast a 90-minute television special on Friday, June 7 [...]

  • Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to

    Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to Be Released in October

    The memoir Prince was working on at the time of his death is coming out Oct. 29, according to the Associated Press. Publisher Random House confirmed Monday that “The Beautiful Ones” will combine Prince’s unfinished manuscript with rare photos, scrapbooks and lyrics. Announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the 288-page book, issued in partnership [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content