Disney Will Not Pursue Big Acquisitions Under Iger; Is Larger Streamlining Underway for Disney+, Hulu?
It’s been just over a week since the Walt Disney Company unexpectedly announced that CEO Bob Chapek would be leaving the company, and former CEO Bob Iger would be returning to take his place. Now, thanks to reporting from Variety, new details are emerging regarding Iger’s future plans for the company and its streaming service Disney+.
Iger spoke with Disney employees at a town hall meeting on Monday in which he said that he had a 24-month mandate to get the company back on track toward stability and that any rumors about the company possibly merging with Apple or making any other big acquisitions had no basis in fact. Iger also confirmed that a hiring freeze instigated by Chapek would continue as the company seeks to address the $1.5 billion loss the company reported in the streaming business during the final quarter of its fiscal year.
So what implications do Iger’s comments at the town hall meeting have for Disney+? For one, it likely means an increased focus on the profitability of the service. That means that the company’s planned price increase for Disney+, set to take place on Dec. 8, is likely to move forward as scheduled. Such an increase, combined with the launch of an ad-supported tier, will help Disney boost the amount of revenue it is seeing per user, the growth indicator that the industry is focusing on far more than raw subscriber numbers as of late.
It also means that more ambitious ideas for the service are likely to be put on hold, at least for the near term. That may include “Next-Gen Storytelling,” an idea from Chapek’s tenure that would see Disney use virtual and augmented reality to offer experiences beyond what can normally be accomplished via streaming. Given the fact that the company is streamlining costs, such a venture is unlikely to get the funding it needs to proceed any time soon.
This could also mean that the company will be pulling back, or at least refocusing, its overall streaming content spending in order to maximize its streaming profitability.
It’s less clear what effect the cost-saving measures will have on Disney’s plans to acquire the rest of Hulu. In recent months, Chapek has discussed the fact that he had wanted to eventually combine Hulu and Disney+ once the company acquired the final third of the general entertainment service in 2024 — or sooner — from Comcast. If Disney were to auction that segment of Hulu off rather than keep it, it could bring an additional revenue boost to the company.
The town hall was just the first inkling of what Iger has in store for Disney over the next two years, but it offered some big hints. Where the company goes from here will bear watching closely, but if Iger’s mandate is similar to what Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav faced when he was tapped to oversee cuts at HBO Max, painful times could be ahead at the House of Mouse.
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