Bob Iger Reiterates Disney’s OTT Future

When CEO Bob Iger announced Disney would cease distributing original movies through Netflix in 2019, he was laying the foundation for a proprietary direct-to-consumer ecosystem.

Speaking Feb. 26 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Iger reiterated oft-discussed plans to launch standalone apps around ESPN (dubbed ESPN Plus and bowing in March at $4.99 monthly) and Disney (OTT in 2019) brands.

The CEO conceded technology and SVOD is disrupting the pay-TV ecosystem, with the aforementioned apps giving Disney an opportunity to “participate in the very business that is doing the disrupting.”

The ESPN service will also enable users to add out-of-market access to Major League Baseball games (MLB.tv) and National Hockey League (NHL.tv) matches for a premium.

“I imagine you’ll see that price rise for the augmented service. We have the opportunity to enable customers to buy seasons, teams, weekends,” Iger said.

But it is the Disney OTT service that is generating the most buzz and speculation. Calling the platform a long-term priority for Disney, the service will feature four-to-five original movies and TV series, in addition to theatrical fare, including Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, according to Iger.

The executive expects to get a better picture of Disney’s OTT window after closing acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film Company.

“We’ll see how that goes and we’ll have a better sense of what kind of volume we can provide,” Iger said.

He said Disney currently has 11 billion-dollar movie franchises, with Black Panther slated to be the 12th – and exclusive to Netflix later this year.

“[We are] competing with ourselves,” Iger said.

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