Bob Iger has defended The Walt Disney Co.’s pivot before and during the pandemic from its legacy theatrical movie and TV business to a growing focus on the streaming space with Disney+ and other digital platforms.
“It all worked out and it worked out great,” Iger said of the November 2019 Disney+ launch while receiving an honorary Clio Award on Wednesday. He said Disney+ and the studio’s shift to the direct-to-consumer space was perilous in terms of having to execute on new digital streaming technology, ensuring enough monthly subscribers signed up and offering consumers an entirely new slate of original content.
“The move from, essentially, traditional forms of distribution — whether for movies or television shows, from linear channels, cable and satellite — to Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+ was a tremendous risk,” Iger recalled. Iger, who was Disney CEO until February 2020, also pointed to the current pandemic accelerating the studio’s shifting to digital platforms after early reluctance by consumers for app-based TV viewing.
“People have gotten a lot more comfortable watching movies and television shows in their homes, particularly using new technology to do so,” Iger said of the shift to streaming platforms.
“For the most part, that’s good for our business. And that’s certainly one example of disruption that was beginning, then hastened, and will probably be here to stay,” he added.