Disney's Iger true to Blu-ray

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He didn't mention them by name, but movie companies that aren't embracing the Blu-ray Disc DVD format are being greedy and shortsighted, Disney CEO Robert Iger suggested Tuesday.

Iger said Blu-ray's eventual victory over rival platform HD DVD is a "no-brainer," given that the former is outselling the latter by 2-to-1.

That, though, didn't stop Viacom's Paramount and DreamWorks from dumping Blu-ray last month in favor of HD DVD.

"Those studios are largely taking easy money, and it will cost them in the future," Iger said Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York.

Earlier at the confab, News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch said that Paramount essentially accepted money from Toshiba to go exclusively HD DVD. He even put a price on the payment: $150 million.

Disney and News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, along with Sony and MGM, are exclusive to Blu-ray, while Universal is with HD DVD only and Warner Bros. backs both formats.

Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons also weighed in on the topic at the conference Tuesday, saying that he is happy to keep churning out content on both formats until the marketplace dictates differently.

Iger, the conference keynoter Tuesday, was introduced as the leader of Goldman Sachs' favorite media conglomerate, from an investment perspective.

"The Disney brand is the only brand that matters in global entertainment," Iger said, noting that Disney's international growth opportunities are better than they are domestically.

The Internet, he said, is "a door, in effect, into markets that we previously had difficulty entering."

He said business is robust in India, China and Russia and that a Disney Channel for Russia could be forthcoming.

He also said Disney can exploit a property better than any other media company, citing, hypothetically, a video game that will become a film, TV show and theme park attraction.

Along those lines, he said that owning Pixar has "taken the tension out of the equation" so that Disney can churn out Pixar attractions at theme parks easier, an example being a planned ride at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim based on the "Cars" animated hit.

The success of "High School Musical" and its sequel, Iger said, hasn't caused Disney to be too much more aggressive at creating original programming for the Disney Channel, given that it already has been doing that with the likes of "Hannah Montana" and "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."

The company will, however, spend "a fair amount of capital" to create content outside of the U.S.

He called ABC's schedule "diverse and strong" and said it is "the No. 1 network in terms of upscale demographics," with seven of the top 20 shows last year with adults ages 18-49.

As for movies: "The studio had a phenomenal year in '07," he said, "so comparisons in '08 will be difficult. But they have a number of strong films," including "Enchanted," "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and "Wall-E."
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