Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger appeared on CNBC for an interview about many different topics, including his recent contract extension. One of the topics brought up during that interview, was that Bob Iger was looking to possibly sell the linear television channels, which include ABC, Freeform, FX and National Geographic.
Bob Iger explained that “we’re going to look expansively about opportunities there”, which led to a direct question about selling networks like FX, to which Iger replied:
We’re going to be expansive? I think if you can, you can interpret what that word means. You know, we’re just getting at that work. But we have to be open minded and objective about the future of those businesses
They may not be core to Disney. Yeah, there’s clearly creativity and content that they create that is core to Disney, but the distribution model, the business model that forms the underpinning of that business, and that is delivered great profits over the years is definitely broken. And we have to call it like it is and that’s part of the transformative work we’re doing.
While this news about Disney potentially selling its linear channels was shocking to viewers, it was just as big a shock for many at Disney, who, according to CNN’s Reliable Sources newsletter, has resulted in some “high anxiety” among thousands of employees.
Disney held a special offsite meeting on Tuesday which was hosted by Disney Entertainment co-chair Dana Walden and attended by Bob Iger. The meeting had been planned for weeks, but had quickly become much more important after the CNBC interview as apparently, the staff were complaining that they had been effectively left staff ‘in the dark’ by not communicating directly. There hadn’t been any mentioned through emails, town halls or other methods.
Bob Iger told his staff that he still felt that linear TV is “incredibly valuable to our business” and spoke about the importance of ABC News, which he is “ridiculously passionate” about. According to sources, Bob explained:
“It’s important to this company. We need to figure out how it makes the transition into streaming. And I happen to believe we will endure. It’s too good, it’s too important, and it’s really fun,”
However, this meeting didn’t settle the nerves within Disney, as according to CNN, a member of staff said
“the usual jewel-in-the-crown stuff — except now we know that he’s selling the jewel. It’s great to say he loves the jewel. It’s great to say that the jewel is important. It’s great to say that the jewel is fun. But he has revealed the truth: he wants to get the highest price he can for the jewel because he can’t afford it anymore.”
The news that Disney is looking to sell its linear networks to focus its efforts on streaming shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, since the linear business is declining and Disney has already shut down most of its linear networks across Europe, Asia and Australia. Focusing all of their efforts in those regions on building Disney+ subscribers.
Bob Iger is looking to streamline Disney, which includes some radical changes that have resulted in over $5 billion dollars worth of cost-cutting, which saw 7000 cast members laid off and it does seem Disney is looking to sell some of its assets to do so, as there was also talk of selling part of ESPN and Star India.
With the quarterly investors call coming up in August, hopefully, some more clarity about Bob’s plans for linear television and how this will impact the future of Disney+, will be revealed soon.
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Source – The Wrap