Yesterday Disney chief Bob Iger held his first earnings call since being returned to the big chair last year. A lot of what he said was to be expected by anyone paying attention: Streaming revenues don't bring in as much as cable and linear did, so the transition to the streaming future needs to be carefully managed, and the company will focus less on subscriber numbers and more on the numbers that matter - $$$$$.
Iger also announced an internal restructure which places greater accountability to drive revenue by executives. Disney is now split into three pillars: Disney Entertainment, ESPN, and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. There will also be 7000 jobs lost as the company restructures itself.
Notably, Disney Entertainment will have two co-shiefs running it: Alan Bergman and Dana Walden. Alan is a film guy, Dana is a TV powerhouse exec.
You can read about those exec appointments here:
What caught my attention was the inevitable question from a journalist on CNBC about Iger's appetite for selling Hulu. Iger's response was non-committal:
“Hulu, by the way, is a very successful platform and I think a good consumer proposition. But everything is on the table right now,” Iger said. “I’m not gonna speculate about whether we’re a buyer or seller of it. But I have obviously suggested that. I’m concerned about undifferentiated general entertainment, particularly in the competitive landscape we’re operating in, and we’re going to look at it very objectively.”
Under a current agreement, Disney are scheduled to buy the remaining ownership stake from Comcast, possibly as early as Jan 2024. But what happens if Disney choose instead to sell off the streaming service?
Outside of the US, all of the grown-up Hulu content is integrated into Disney+. It makes the platform far more compelling for potential subscribers who aren't concerned about Marvel, Star Wars, or the kids-orientated content.
For Disney, one would assume that the question ultimately comes down to the numbers: Would the company lose too great a share of revenue by merging together the platforms from those grown-up subscribers who want mature content alongside the more youthful Disney+ shows & movies? There are billions that can be raised by selling Hulu to a competitor like Comcast (owner of the fledging Peacock) and it would prevent Disney from having to spend a few billion to buy the remaining stake in the company.
The ultimate question: Are those billions in savings worth the competitor advantage Disney has now?
Selling Hulu is ultimately selling off a customer database and a select number of TV shows and movies. Largely Hulu licences most of its content and its biggest exclusive drawcards are FX on Hulu programs - shows that are licensed from the Disney-owned FX. What does Disney really have to lose?
- Shock: No other streamers wanted Hulu's unfunny show Reboot. The cancelled show will remain very much dead despite efforts to sell it elsewhere. Read: Deadline
- CBS has greenlit a pilot starring Damon Wayans and his son Damon Wayans Jr. Read: THR
- Australia's Fetch TV has re-signed with NBCUniversal - the deal will keep Universal TV, Oxygen, MSNBC, and CNBC on the pay service.
- Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures debuts May 4 on Disney+. While the media release may say it is an animated series for kids, I'm choosing to believe the show is really about a rumspringa for jedi. Read: thefutoncritic
- Colin Mochrie reckons the long-term Whose Line Is It Anyway cast have never received adequate compensation. The comments were made while he was singing a song about fairness in the style of hip-hop. Read: Deadline
- Amazon Prime Video has renewed The Peripheral for season 2. Read: THR
- Among the many Spider-Man projects Sony has in the works at Amazon Prime Video will be a Spider-Man: Noir series. Read: Variety
- The Colin Hanks doco about family friend John Candy will debut on Amazon Prime Video. Read: Variety
- A study has found that flirting in VR may help prevent cheating. Not known is whether this study existed five minutes prior to one of the researchers girlfriends trying on a headset... Read: VR Scout
- Japanese game show format Quiz Pong will be taken to market. Read: Variety
Wreck debuts on Hulu March 1.
The Matt Damon/Ben Affleck sneaker industry film Air debuts in cinemas April 5, soon after it'll be on Amazon Prime Video.
Owen Wilson stars as Bob Ross in a new film called Paint, which opens in cinemas April 17.
That's it for this morning. And for the week. Somehow it is Friday already. Namaste.