Television

Disney to boost d2c biz through 21st Century Fox acquisition

The company is also bullish on the future of Hulu.

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MUMBAI: While Disney is going aggressive about its direct-to-consumer business, the company sees a number of opportunities from the 21st Century Fox deal.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a call with analysts after the Q2 results that the company expressed its interest to launch Disney and ESPN direct to consumer service in the summer of 2017. Soon after that, he started engaging with Rupert Murdoch about the possibility of buying 21st Century Fox assets to boost the direct-to-consumer platforms.

While the company has already chalked out ambitious plans for its upcoming Disney+ service, it is also bullish about another asset Hulu, where it has majority stakes. Iger noted that it's the best consumer television proposition out there because it offers linear channels that include live news and sports, in-season stacking of network programming and great original programming. However, he also mentioned that with Comcast being a 33 per cent owner of Hulu, any big decisions would have to be done with its cooperation.

“I think we've publicly confirmed that there has been a dialogue with Comcast about them possibly divesting their stake. And you can expect that if that were to occur, there probably would be some ongoing relationship as it resulted to programming,” Iger commented on speculations of Comcast’s stake divestment in Hulu.

The deal has given Disney a few strong brands but CEO Bob Iger is equally happy about new employees that have joined the company as part of the acquisition. “In all cases, I'd say we got great people, and that's very, very evident to us today. And also the other thing that's happening is how quickly we've been able to integrate not only the assets, but the people into our plans. I'd say if I'm pleasantly surprised --one thing I'm most surprised about in a positive sense is how quickly we put people in significant positions of leadership in the company that can not only help manage our businesses today, but manage our businesses into the future,” said Iger.

Back in 2017, when Iger started shifting his course to digital, he announced Disney would part ways with Netflix. “I don't want to get too specific on that, but there was a window in the Netflix deal that enabled us access to some of the films, so it's the films that we were licensing to them, and again, I don't want to get more specific than that. But when we did the Netflix deal, we envisioned, even though it was at that point far off, the possibility that one day we might want to launch our own service. So we carved out an ability to run some of the films on such a service, and it did pay off,” he answered while asked about what will happen to the content that returns from Netflix.

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