Disney CEO Bob Iger: ‘Consumers have lost patience’ | M&M Global

Disney CEO Bob Iger: ‘Consumers have lost patience’

Walt Disney Company chairman and chief executive Bob Iger has warned the media industry that consumers have “lost patience”, and that vendors must make it “easier” for them to consume content.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2016 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference at Palm Beach, Florida, Iger discussed Disney’s global sports TV network ESPN, and his believe that it retains “brand value” – despite a drop in US subscriber numbers.

When challenged by the interviewer that ESPN has become an “unsolvable problem”, Iger insisted that the brand has a future.

“I believe in the brand value of ESPN,” he said. “I believe in the passion for sports across the board, and the value of live. All those things give us confidence that the business of ESPN will remain not only successful, but also a growth engine for the company for years to come.”

However, Iger acknowledged the broadcaster must improve its mobile strategy to offer audiences a greater range of bundles and direct-to-consumer propositions.

“When you hit a speedbump, whether you want to watch something or buy something, you just go elsewhere”

“We think we’ve got to crack mobile even more successfully than we have before. People do not want just a fixed experience,” he said.

“We’ve got to get even better at the digital side. And then eventually, which we’re doing already, is to create more and more product to be sold direct to the consumer. Because, long term, we need to be in the business of selling product direct.”

It comes down to a change in consumer mind-set, Iger claimed with viewers “young and old” increasingly insistent that content be delivered in the most convenient form – whether that be via cable TV and mobile app.

He added: “We have lost patience when it comes to finding things and losing things. When you hit a speedbump, whether you want to watch something or buy something, you just go elsewhere.

“That is something that the whole media industry needs to be mindful of – how do we get consumers to find our things easier, and to use them under circumstances that are much more user-friendly than they have been?”

Star Wars poster

High-quality IP

Elsewhere, Iger discussed the huge success of the recent Star Wars movie, ‘The Force Awakens’, and his strategy to acquire “high-quality” intellectual property through Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.

Iger, who succeeded Michael Eisner as Disney CEO in 2005, said he had identified a decade ago that distribution would become “commoditised”, and urged the board to back his plan to build a war chest of enviable IP.

“I thought a lot about what the world would look like, and it seemed pretty clear there would be a proliferation of distribution and, with that, a proliferation of choices and IP. Distribution would be more and more of a commodity. Some IP would, but some wouldn’t, and that is high-quality, branded intellectual property,” he said.

“We were heavily weighted towards our media networks, in terms of our value and our bottom line. There was a definite strategy to think about other businesses and diversifying the company.”

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