CEO Bob Chapek Looking to Accelerate Disney+/Hulu Merger

Subscription streaming VOD pioneer Hulu remains a co-owned platform between Disney and Comcast, with Disney having 67% ownership and operating control following its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019. Comcast’s NBCUniversal owns the remaining 33% stake in Hulu.

The companies have an agreement in place whereby Comcast has the option to sell its 33% stake in Hulu to Disney in 2024 at a price no less than $27.5 billion. Disney would like to expedite that transaction in an effort to meld Hulu within the Disney+ ecosystem, according to CEO Bob Chapek.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek

Speaking Sept. 14 at the Goldman Sachs + Technology confab in San Francisco, Chapek said that when the opportunity comes in 2024 to acquire NBCUniversal’s Hulu stake, there will also be an opening to combine the streaming platforms.

Hulu ended the most-recent fiscal period with 42.2 million subscribers, while Disney+ ended the period with 152.1 million.

Specifically, Chapek contends that without full ownership of Hulu, combining the platform with Disney+ is not an option.

“We would love to get to the endpoint earlier, but that obviously takes some level of propensity on [Comcast] to have reasonable [fiscal acquisition] terms to get there,” he said. “And if we can get there, I would be more than happy to try and facilitate [a Disney+/Hulu combination].”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The executive said the company is getting hands-on experience combining diverse content within the Disney+ brand as evidenced by the melding of the Indian-based Hotstar streaming platform with Disney+, as well offering general entertainment in Europe through the Star platform.

“We’re going to have a lot of experience integrating Disney general entertainment into a Disney+ integrated hard bundle,” Chapek said, adding that the combination would revolve around giving consumers more content choices on the Disney+ platform.

The CEO contends the biggest content growth areas for Disney+ revolve around general entertainment, not just family-based fare.

“It’s only natural if you have some young kids and its 8 o’clock at night and you’ve just watched Dumbo, chances are you are not going to want to watch Pinocchio right after that,” Chapek said, adding that content options for older viewers across the Disney spectrum are fragmented and need to be consolidated.

“I’m amazed every day on this job how elastic the Disney brand is, and that we have had no blowback whatsoever in terms of including that general entertainment content on a Disney-branded streaming proposition,” he said.

Based on the success of the Hulu ad-supported subscription streaming tier, Chapek has high confidence Disney can replicate the revenue growth when it launches an ad-supported Disney+ subscription tier on Dec. 8.

“We expect that our ad-driven business will be margin neutral at worst to the full-priced, non-ad version,” he said. “I think this just puts wind in our sails in terms of being able to achieve that. So, we are very optimistic.”

When asked about the pending 38% price hike for the non-ad Disney+ tier and the fact that the ad-supported option will be priced at the current $7.99 Disney+ rate without ads, Chapek contends that when the platform launched in 2019, it was significantly undervalued.

“I think everyone in the room would acknowledge that the launch of Disney+ at that introductory [$4.99] price was pretty absurd,” he said, adding those ongoing investments in Disney+ from both a technology aspect as well content, support price hikes.

“I think we have a lot of room on the price value range, and we believe our churn implications of taking up the price even in the big chunks that we’re doing, is going to be negligible,” he said. “Again, I think it is what the market will bear, which is a direct reflection of price value. And I think we’re way underpriced relative to the value we provide to consumers.”

Disney+ Tops 152.1 Million Q3 Subs; Ad-Supported Tier Launching Dec. 8 Along With Platform Price Hikes

The Walt Disney Co. on Aug. 10 announced that its branded Disney+ subscription streaming service completed the studio’s third third quarter (ended July 2) with 152.1 million subscribers worldwide. That represents a 31% increase from 116 million subs at the end of the previous-year period. The platform added 14.4 million subs since the end of Q2 on April 2.

Disney’s pending ad-supported Disney+ subscription offering is set to launch on Dec. 8, priced at $7.99 per month. The ad-free subscription tier is increasing to $10.99 monthly, up $3. Hulu will also see a price hike to $7.99 from $6.99, with the ad-free option rising to $14.99 from the current $12.99.

Again, much of the platform’s foreign subscriber growth originated in India through Disney’s Hotstar streaming platform. The platform helped Disney add 13.5 million subs to 58.4 million from 44.9 million last year.

Disney+ added 6.6 million North American subs to end the period with 44.5 million from 37.9 million at the end of Q3 2021. International sub growth, excluding India, grew 48% to 49.2 million from 33.2 million last year.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

International subscribers now account for 107.6 million, or almost 71% of the Disney+ subscriber base.

When combined with 22.8 million ESPN+ subs (up 53% year-over-year), plus Hulu’s 42.2 million (up 8%) and four million Hulu with Live TV subs (up 8%), Disney ended Q3 with 221 million total streaming subscribers.

Disney expects to generate 135 million to 165 million core Disney+ subs by end of fiscal-year 2024, with non-Hotstar subscribers accounting for 60% to 70% of the projected 230 million to 260 million overall subscribers. Disney is now upping its guidance for Disney+ Hotstar subs to 80 million by the end of fiscal year 2024.

Meanwhile, as Disney ups its direct-to-consumer streaming footprint, so too do the segment’s expenses. The DTC segment ended the quarter with more than $1.1 billion in operating losses on revenue of $5 billion. That compared with an operating loss of $293 million on revenue of $4.2 billion in the previous-year period as the platform ramps up content spending and worldwide distribution.

Disney expects the unit’s operating loss to peak in the current fiscal quarter before transitioning toward operating income over the next two years.

“We continue to transform entertainment as we near our second century, with compelling new storytelling across our many platforms and unique immersive physical experiences that exceed guest expectations, all of which are reflected in our strong operating results this quarter,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement.

Disney Extends CEO Bob Chapek’s Contract Three Years, Includes $20 Million Annual Bonus Incentive

In a major show of confidence, The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors June 28 extended CEO Bob Chapek’s term of employment agreement for three years, beginning from July 1.

The employment agreement will be amended to provide that Chapek will be granted a long-term incentive award having a target value of not less than $20 million annually. The proportion of his long-term incentive award comprised of performance-based restricted stock units will be increased to 60%.

Disney said the largely stock-based bonus incentives do not guarantee Chapek any minimum amount of compensation. The actual amounts payable to the former home entertainment executive in respect of such opportunities will be determined based on the extent to which any performance conditions and/or service conditions applicable to such awards are satisfied and on the value of the Disney’s stock.

Indeed, Chapek may receive compensation in respect of any such award that is greater or less than the stated target value, depending on whether, and to what extent, the applicable performance and other conditions are satisfied, and on the value of the media giant’s stock.

The new employment contract does not alter Chapek’s existing employment agreement, including his $2.5 million base salary.

Since being named CEO in February 2020, Chapek has weathered a pandemic, political issues in Florida, mixed up the theatrical window and help broaden the reach of the Disney+ subscription streaming service globally, among other accomplishments.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disney Board Backs Bob Chapek Following Executive Ouster

Disney’s board of directors issued a formal vote of confidence for CEO Bob Chapek after the former home entertainment executive abruptly fired Peter Rice, the media giant’s TV boss. Rice, who came to Disney in the $71.3 billion Fox acquisition, was reportedly seen as a possible successor to Chapek, whose contract comes up next February.

In a statement, Disney board chairwoman Susan Arnold said the strength of The Walt Disney Company’s businesses coming out of the pandemic remain a testament to Chapek’s leadership and vision for the company’s future.

“In this important time of business growth and transformation, we are committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob and his leadership team have the support and confidence of the board,” Arnold wrote.

The vote of confidence comes as Disney’s stock remains at a two-year low, and Chapek deals with the fallout of his controversial handling of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation. Florida lawmakers have passed legislation that would strip Disney of its 55-year-old self-governing status in the state next year.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disney: Ad-Supported Disney+ Could Mirror Hulu Pricing

Disney’s pending launch of a cheaper, ad-supported option for Disney+ has no price point or launch date. But that didn’t stop Wall Street analysts from calling out Disney senior management for further details on the subscriber option SVOD rival Netflix is looking to emulate in the fourth quarter.

Speaking on the May 11 fiscal call, CFO Christine McCarthy and CEO Bob Chapek both reiterated that an ad-supported Disney+ option is coveted by marketers as well as a way to attract incremental subscribers.

Christine McCarthy

“We will continue to evaluate what makes sense for the service in terms of pricing,” McCarthy said. “And I will say that you can look to our experience with Hulu and [its] ad-supported tier. We believe that this will contribute to ARPU. And we look at it as certainly something additive that will work towards achieving our long-term profitability goals.”

Hulu charges $6.99 monthly for access with advertising, and $12.99 monthly for ad-free access. Disney+ currently costs $7.99 monthly, but Chapek hinted a price hike was in play in part to pay for upwards $32 billion in multiplatform content production across Disney properties.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“As we increase our content investment, we believe that that’s going to give us the ability to adjust our price,” Chapek said. “We are bullish about our future content going forward, not only in terms of quality but also in terms of quantity. And that’s really what’s driving our bullishness, for what we might see as the pricing power that we would have going forward.”

The executive said the company remained in “good shape” in terms of being able to meet an internal deadline for rollout of the Disney+ ad tier.

“That’s largely because we’re already doing it,” Chapek said. “The combination of our ESPN+ streaming tech stack, and our experience in Hulu and the software, we think that our current advertising capabilities really substantially prepare us to already bring this tier into operations.”

He said Disney doesn’t need to acquire additional assets or develop anything new internally since it acquired IT backend engine BAMTech in 2017.

“We’ve been looking forward to the [Disney+ ad-tier option] for a while,” Chapek said. “So, this is something that’s well-greased, if you will. And our teams are hard at work at making that become a reality.”

Disney+ Adds 7.9 Million Q2 Subs, Reaches 138 Million Globally

The Walt Disney Co. May 11 said it added 7.9 million Disney+ subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 2). The streamer ended the period with almost 138 million subscribers worldwide, which includes 50.1 Hotstar subscribers in India.

The streamer, combined with ESPN+ and Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, brings Disney’s direct-to-consumer bundle to almost 206 million subs, up from 196.4 million during the previous-year period.

Specifically, Disney+ added 7.1 million North American subs, to bring the region’s total to 44.4 million, up from 37.3 million in the previous-year period. Internationally (excluding Hotstar), Disney+ added 12.1 million subs to bring its overseas base to 43.2 million, compared with 31.1 million a year ago.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

ESPN+ added 9 million subs to reach 22.8 million, up from 13.8 million last year. Hulu ended the quarter with 41.4 million subs, up from 32.8 million subs in the prior-year period. Hulu + Live TV, Disney’s online TV streaming platform, finished the quarter with 4.1 million subs, up from 3.8 million subs a year ago.

“Our strong results in the second quarter … once again proved that we are in a league of our own,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. “Quite simply, we believe Disney+ is one-of-a-kind streaming service.”

At the same time, direct-to-consumer business increases also result in increased costs. Segment revenue for the quarter increased 23% to $4.9 billion, and operating loss increased $600 million to $900 million. The increase in operating loss was due to higher losses at Disney+ and ESPN+ and lower operating income at Hulu.

Lower results at Disney+ reflected higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue. Higher subscription revenue was due to subscriber growth and increases in retail pricing. The increases in costs and subscribers reflected growth in existing markets and, to a lesser extent, expansion to new markets.

Lower results at ESPN+ were due to higher sports programming costs and a decrease in income from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view events, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue due to subscriber growth. Lower UFC pay-per-view income was due to a decrease in average buys per event.

The decrease at Hulu was due to higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by subscription revenue growth and higher advertising revenue. The increase in programming and production costs was primarily due to higher subscriber-based fees for programming the live-TV service due to the carriage of more networks, an increase in the number of subscribers and rate increases. Subscription revenue growth was due to an increase in subscribers and higher average rates, primarily due to increases in retail pricing. The increase in advertising revenue was due to higher rates and impressions.

Doom and Gloom Over Netflix Sub Loss Is Overblown

Let’s not overreact to Netflix’s bad quarter — and warnings of even greater subscription losses to come.

The flurry of critical news reports and analyses would make you think that Netflix is a sinking ship — and that at long last the streaming wars, triggered by the arrival more than two years ago of Disney+ and, in subsequent months, several more high-profile streaming services, are pounding Netflix to the point where its continued dominance is in serious doubt.

Sure, a 30% drop in stock price is nothing to sneeze at. And the press is sounding the alarm bells — particularly CNN, which happens to share the same parent as HBO Max, one of Netflix’s primary competitors. “Netflix’s collapse is a warning sign for stocks,” ready one CNN Business report. Another: “Future of Netflix looks grim as company value drops.”

Meanwhile, a good friend with a good stock market track record just sank a tidy chunk of his investment dollars into Netflix, buying “on the dip,” as they say on Wall Street. 

“It’s a no-brainer,” he told me. “I don’t personally know anyone who’s canceled their subscription, or is planning on doing so.”

Neither do I. I’m not going to go so far as to claim that Netflix is bullet-proof — nothing is, really — but I do believe the company’s stock will recover, and it will remain the dominant streaming service for the foreseeable future.

Netflix remains the leader in original content, the driving force behind SVOD platform growth. HBO Max just reported rosy sub numbers, but I believe that’s due, in large part, to its recent history of getting Warner Bros. movies the same day they open in theaters as well as HBO’s longstanding reputation as the place to go for quality productions. 

Content, after all, is king, and years of spending on top-quality series and even movies (although that’s been more hit or miss) has made Netflix a staple in most everyone’s entertainment diet.

Then there’s subscription inertia. The gym-membership model that Netflix introduced more than a decade ago, about a year after it began streaming content back in January 2007, has been an extraordinary success. Essentially, the concept is price something so low, and offer consumers unlimited use, that once they sign up they are unlikely to cancel, simply because it’s such a small blip on their monthly credit card statement.

True, the proliferation of streamers has made this model not as rock-solid as it once was. Consumer stacking of SVOD subscriptions has made the average monthly expense (factoring in Internet costs) exceed that of cable, according to a TiVo study, while according to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Survey nearly 50% of respondents said they  are re-evaluating multiple streaming subscriptions, and 40% said they planned on canceling at least one service.

But while this “streaming fatigue” is a real thing, I don’t see Netflix as one of the casualties. Nielsen just reported that in March, Netflix increased its market share among streamers to 6.6% from 6.4%. Netflix may have lost 200,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal period ended March 31, but the subscription streaming VOD behemoth increased its market share to 6.6% among streamers in March from 6.4% in February, according to new data from Nielsen. And while Netflix no longer has a lock on the weekly streaming charts published by Whip Media, JustWatch, Parrot Analytics and others, the service continues to dominate them.

So let’s not write off Netflix. I tend to agree with Bob Chapek, who in an exclusive interview with Media Play News states, “I’m not sure how many players will be left standing, ultimately, in the streaming wars, as they call it, but I certainly think both Netflix and Disney+ will be among them.”

A Home Entertainment Success Story: Bob Chapek and the Digital Revolution

As CEO of The Walt Disney Co., Bob Chapek is the home entertainment industry’s single biggest success story.

He joined Disney in 1993, after stints in brand management at H.J. Heinz Co. and in advertising at J Walter Thompson, and spent his first 18 years in home entertainment, running the division as president from 2006 to 2011. And with streaming now the dominant delivery mechanism in home entertainment, it’s fitting that one of Disney’s biggest corporate initiatives is Disney+, the subscription streaming platform launched in November 2019 that by the end of last year had amassed nearly 130 million subscribers worldwide, up 37% from the end of 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Media Play News, Chapek shares some thoughts on the past, present and future of home entertainment. 

MPN: At the time of launch, did you recognize DVD’s potential?

Chapek: I don’t think that anyone fully realized the trajectory that we would be on. I think if we knew, we probably all would have made other decisions quicker than we did. But I think it’s been a roadmap, right? We went from VHS and Laserdisc, to DVD, then to Blu-ray, then to having files accessible through iTunes and then, ultimately, streaming. So it’s been part of a big evolution. I don’t think anybody had the foresight to know exactly how that was going to play out. But we knew we were on a digital path, a digital future, and I think the consumer’s better off for it.

MPN: What were you doing when DVD first came on the market?
 
Chapek: At that point I was SVP of marketing for home video, running marketing, essentially. What I was actually doing was making sure those discs would actually play, because if you remember there some playability issues, as there are with all new formats, compatibility issues between players and discs, and making sure that anything we put in the marketplace was going to actually deliver on what the consumer expected. And then shortly thereafter, we started innovating, trying to take full advantage of all the capabilities that the new digital format had. More than just no need to rewind, right? Or you can start a movie anywhere you wanted to — there wasn’t that linearity, and we tried to take advantage of that in so many ways. I work with Pete Docter still to this day, and I remember innovating on Monsters Inc., with the two paths on the menus, one for kids, one for adults, and it was a completely different experience. So we did try to seize the opportunity to use technology to create a whole different type of experience and, you know, that’s the Disney way.

MPN: When Blu-ray came along, you played a primary role in bringing that high-definition format to market. I remember Warren Lieberfarb saying it’s vaporware, and you explained that it’s not evolutionary, it’s revolutionary.

Chapek: Well, first of all, I do give credit to Warren to be the father of DVD, he certainly was that, and got the entire industry off on its way. [But with Blu-ray] there was an unfortunate and expensive format war. We clearly aligned on the side of Blu-ray because it was the best for the consumer. I think there were a lot of competing interests with people doing things that might be best for their company but not necessarily with an eye toward what was right for the consumer, and we just believed that a transformative technology that could completely promise a new experience, without compromises, would be superior to something that was a bit more evolutionary, like HD DVD. So knowing that it would make our library brand new again, if we had a revolutionary technology rather than an evolutionary one, we stood, as you remember, staunchly behind Blu-ray, which eventually prevailed.

MPN: Along with Blu-ray Disc, the argument can be made that DVD also fathered streaming, both because it spurred the digitization of content and because its small size and light weight prompted Reed Hastings to launch a DVD-by-mail rental service. Would there be a Disney+ had it not been for DVD?

Chapek: I think it’s part of the natural evolution. It was a big leap from tape to disc, and then another big leap from physical to digital. And even in those early days of Blu-ray we started playing around with what we thought was going to be digital delivery. We were involved in a new technology we had developed called Keychest. I don’t know if you remember it, but it was the embryonic beginning of owning a digital library — which, again, to us was a pretty big deal at that time. I think back often to those Keychest days as being the founding moment of at least our own digital business. And we certainly played along with that evolution, and now with streaming, with Disney+, it’s really been interesting for me, over almost 30 years, to see this evolution. I have the deepest respect for Netflix. Again, they were pioneers in this business, coming all the way from shipping discs to your home all the way to where they’re at today. And I’m not sure how many players will be left standing, ultimately, in the streaming wars, as they call it, but I certainly think both Netflix and Disney+ will be among them.
 
MPN: Any thought on the future of physical media?

Chapek: I guess there’s always going to be a niche for physical media that some people will celebrate. I still hang on to a few of my classic titles and, in particular, I’m a big music audio on disc fan for some of the high-definition and lossless formats, so I’m one of those rare types that still loves the lossless, uncompressed formats. But I think each person will find out their own path when it comes to hanging on to different physical formats. I remember the days of Snow White, the one that started it all here at Disney, and working on The Lion King, which has sold over 45 million copies in North America alone, and there are some of those titles that will hold some library value if for no other reason than sentimental value. But I fully embrace the digital revolution that’s taken place and think everything I really need to watch is on Disney+.

Amy Jo Smith: Recollections From DVD to DEG

As the digital entertainment business celebrates 25 years, so does DEG.

DEG was there at the beginning, and I with it, when the DVD Video Group was formed in 1997 with the express purpose of promoting the first digital entertainment format — DVD — in collaboration with content owners and hardware makers. 

I have so many fond memories and proud moments. Among the proudest was the formation of DEG Japan, where senior Japanese executives met under the guise of the DEG brand for meaningful dialog and to see what worked in their market. They were so self-guided; it was really inspiring to see.  And, more recently, the creation of the Hedy Lamarr Awards to honor women making strides in entertainment and technology, an initiative championed by Marc Finer, who has worked side by side with me at DEG since day one. 

I share these thoughts and a few more of my personal touchstones in an effort to focus not so much on the business details as on the business “flavor.” And that flavor is pioneering, revolutionary, one of art pushed forward by technology, and of a team bonded by common goals and shared experience.

DVD

Warren Lieberfarb

Warren Lieberfarb, the Warner Home Video president known far and wide as the “Father of DVD,” had the vision of putting a movie on a CD, named it DVD and, with no small amount of chutzpah, assured everyone that consumers would buy and collect movies going forward.  I had been in many meetings with Warren, but it wasn’t until I heard him convince a room packed with naysayers at CES 1998 that I finally understood: Warren was a force of nature, and he was going to make it happen. DVD was the most significant disruption the entertainment industry had experienced, and it became the fastest selling consumer electronics product in history.

DVD-Audio

DEG helped launch DVD-Audio at the music industry trade show NARM in San Antonio in 2000. It was amazing to see the jaws of both music enthusiasts and experts drop when they heard classics like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors or Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.  It was music they had heard countless times, but now they were hearing it differently.  It came alive. DVD-Audio’s quality notwithstanding, digital won the race in the music business and DVD-Audio was a casualty as a mainstream format. 

You’ve Got Mail

Over the years, DEG helped promote many popular titles when they came out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.  One of my favorites was a promotion we did for Warner Home Video’s launch of You’ve Got Mail in New York City, where we passed out daisies in Central Park. My now-husband Jeff walked by and got some flowers.  When we actually met two years later, we realized that our first encounter was me giving him daisies in the park!

DEG Bags

DEG quickly became known for its coveted bags we’d give away at events, particularly the DEG Annual Reception at CES.  The bags were stuffed with dozens of DVDs, then Blu-rays, plus lots of other fun branded items.  I have many memories of the bags, but my favorites are receiving counterfeit bag tickets from attendees trying to score extra bags; walking through Heathrow Airport and seeing an executive from Paramount using the bag (pictured); and visiting the old city in Jerusalem and spying an executive’s teenage son using the DEG backpack!

Emiel Petrone

Emiel Petrone

As DEG chair, Disney’s Bob Chapek asked the Board of Directors to attend CEDIA, the trade show where the coolest home entertainment technologies of the time were displayed. Everyone agreed and found it a meaningful visit, punctuated by a VIP tour of show of the floor by DEG’s technical director, Marc Finer (known to most as “Finer”). Our founding chair, Emiel Petrone of Philips, led an after-dinner run to White Castle for burgers, which became a DEG tradition at CEDIA, despite seeming like a better idea in the moment than it ever did the next morning.  After Emiel passed away in 2004, Bob picked up the mantle and rallied us all to continue the CEDIA midnight White Castle run in Emiel’s honor.

9/11

(Photo courtesy Wiki Commons)

DEG was holding a meeting at Giant Interactive in New York when the attacks of 9/11 happened. We watched in horror as we realized our colleague John Beug from Warner Music lost his wife and mother-in-law in one of the planes. They would turn out to be among 3,000 others who perished that day. Stranded in New York City, I spent the next few days with DEG colleagues. We were all there for each other, giving support. Every year since, Jeff Stabenau of Giant, Gene Kelsey (then of Panasonic), Leslie Cohen (then of Sony Music), Paul Bishow (then of Universal Music Group) and I connect on Sept. 11 to honor the memory of others.

4K

DEG established DEG Japan as a means of flowing more information of emerging technologies to the membership.  Attending DEG Japan’s annual meeting and Blu-ray Prize celebration was always a highlight. It’s been a pleasure to know and work with Tsukagoshi-san, formerly of Disney, and many others.  Each trip was punctuated with a visit to Sony worldwide headquarters to visit their lab. I’ll never forget the moment they showed me 4K in their state-of-the-art theater. Colors and images came alive in a way I’d never imagined.

Board leadership

Over these 25 years, one thing that always strikes me is how the Board leaders, all executives with demanding day jobs, took the time to guide the organization, knowing that doing so would help grow the industry and, in turn, grow their businesses. I’m blessed that they all took the time to mentor and lead me, and that I may call each a friend, not just a colleague.  DEG would not be marking 25 years in 2022 if it hadn’t been for their vision and leadership.

Amy Jo Smith is president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the leading home entertainment trade association and the descendant of the DVD Video Group, formed in 1997 to promote DVD.

‘Media Play News’ to Celebrate 25 Years of Digital Entertainment

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the U.S. launch of DVD, Media Play News is producing a special project celebrating DVD’s legacy and chronicling the digital revolution in entertainment that it triggered.

“Without DVD, there would be no digital delivery of movies, no streaming, no Netflix,” said Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold. “DVD was not just the most successful consumer electronics product launch in history, but it also led to the mass digitization of content, particularly on the library side, which opened the door to every avenue of digital delivery we have today, including streaming.

“And let’s not forget that Netflix began life as a DVD-by-mail rental service.”

The project, “25 Years of Digital Entertainment,” will consist of a detailed chronology that will be split between March and April issues of Media Play News, and feature exclusive interviews with such key players as Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, and Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

“25 Years of Digital Entertainment, Part 1: The Disc That Changed the World” will focus on the development, launch and subsequent success of DVD as well as its two successor formats, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD.

“25 Years of Digital Entertainment, Part 2: The Digital Stream” will chronicle the history of digital distribution, from its cable pay-per-view roots to the first attempts to deliver video-on-demand by the telcos right up to the present surge in subscription streaming.

Media Play News also is producing a series of podcasts that will be available on Spotify, Apple and other leading platforms, as well as a commemorative book.

In addition, essays by industry leaders reflecting on the DVD launch and its legacy will be published online throughout March and April and also will be included in the book.