Disney CFO Touts 'Best-Available-Screen' Strategy

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo - P 2012

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo - P 2012

Netflix "kind of keeps you on your game," Jay Rasulo tells Wall Street analysts at a financial conference.

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo on Tuesday touted a recent deal with Comcast as a great example of the company’s strategy to allow its content to reside on the “best available screen,” though not for free.

Under the terms of the deal announced a month ago, Comcast customers can watch ESPN, the Disney Channel and much more on iPads and other digital platforms. It’s a feature – Rasulo said multiple times Tuesday – that Comcast was willing to pay for and Time Warner Cable was not.

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Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Rasulo said that consumers are “willing to pay for portability.”

He also said Netflix’s emergence as a powerful online distributor “kind of keeps you on your game,” and that licensing to it and its competitors gives content “a second life.”

Rasulo said ABC’s switch from soap operas to lifestyle programming ahs been successful, and he said that retransmission fees for ABC can amount to $500 million annually in a few years.

The “brand fix” at Disney’s California Adventure theme park has already succeeded in keeping consumers at that park longer, which means less overcrowding at Disneyland.

On the film side, he likened the DVD business to a melting ice cube and reiterated the studio’s intent to “bring our slate way down.”

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He promised 10 to 12 movies annually, down from as many as 25 a few years ago, along with 4-6 that Disney will distribute for DreamWorks.

Rasulo also the company has no plans to “aggressively link” its primary brands, Disney, ABC and ESPN in the minds of consumers.

“They have a look and feel that is not Disney,” he said of ABC and ESPN.

“We don’t want to confuse either the Disney brand or the ABC brand by comingling them.”