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Disney CEO: It’s a Balancing Act Between Direct-to-Consumer and Linear TV

Stephanie Sengwe

As the launch of Disney+ moves the company into the streaming space, consumers and industry analysts are curious as to measures being taken to ensure that Disney’s linear channels—ABC, Nat Geo, Freeform, FX, etc.—still get substantial programming that still caters to their non-streaming consumers.

In an earnings conference call yesterday, CEO Bob Iger assured everyone that all measures are being taken to make sure that the linear channels continue to churn out adequate, quality programming. “We’re negotiating with a number of MVPDs right now to extend our linear TV channels.These remain important deals and businesses to us. It is important to us to continue to fuel those channels with enough quality, enough original programming to support the businesses as they exist today,” he said.

According to Iger, Disney has to perform a balancing act in order for both their streaming service and traditional linear TV service to flourish. They have to set up their strategy in such a way that should, the demand on Disney+ overcome that of traditional TV to the point that it is no longer as profitable as it has been in the past, they can still move content online.

“[Our] pivot to the direct-to-consumer business is designed to not only address the opportunity that exists in that space, but to address the challenge that exists on the traditional side of the business. This means we have our own balancing act to do, in terms of fueling both sides with enough quality product to succeed in both places,” Iger stated. “What we are also doing is setting ourselves up in a way that we can be resilient should the traditional side errode so significantly that it’s not as viable as it has been. That would enable us to pivot pretty quickly by moving even more product from the traditional channels to the non-traditional channels.”

Disney+ will launch on November 12th and will offer customers a bundle of all their direct-to-consumer services. The bundle, which will cost $12.99 a month, will include Disney+ ($6.99), Hulu ($5.99) (ad-supported plan), and ESPN+ ($4.99) — is $5 less than if subscribed to separately. With the new bundle, you can get the three services for less than Netflix.

The company is currently in discussions to potentially strike distribution deals for Disney+ with Apple, Amazon and Google.

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