Disney CEO Bob Iger is implementing a multi-faceted strategy to address the challenges facing the company. Since his return in November 2022, Iger has made tough decisions and announced 7,000 job cuts as part of $5.5 billion in cuts. However, the tough decisions are not over, as Iger is now looking for buyers and partners for significant parts of Disney’s business.
One area Iger is venturing into is sports betting, despite previously stating that it didn’t fit with Disney’s family-friendly image. He is also focused on turning around the performance of the company’s films and making streaming profitable. In addition, Iger is currently in negotiations with Charter Communications over terms for a new contract to carry Disney’s cable channels.
Another challenge Iger and the Disney board face is finding his successor while battling lawsuits over streaming losses. There is also speculation that the company could eventually sell itself to a larger entity like Apple. Furthermore, Iger is engaged in an ongoing political battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the state’s Don’t Say Gay law and control of Disney’s Orlando theme park.
In order to streamline the company and focus on streaming, Iger has reorganized Disney into three core units: Entertainment, ESPN, and Parks. He has also indicated that Disney’s TV and cable businesses, including ABC and cable networks like FX, may not be core to the company. Talks have reportedly been held about potentially selling ABC to Nexstar, while Byron Allen has made a $10 billion bid for ABC TV and other Disney networks. However, Disney has stated that no decisions have been made regarding the sale of any properties.
Despite looking to shed or share some of its businesses, Disney is expected to take full control of Hulu and buy out Comcast’s remaining share. This move could benefit Disney with streaming content, marketing, and ad revenue. Meanwhile, Iger aims to take ESPN direct-to-consumer, but he needs partners to scale it quickly due to the high cost of sports rights. Disney has also struck a $2 billion deal with regional casino operator Penn Entertainment to create ESPN Bet.
One of the biggest challenges for Iger is finding a successor who can lead Disney’s diverse businesses and satisfy Wall Street. While Iger’s recent contract extension gives him more time to transform Disney, it also suggests that there is no clear candidate for CEO. Potential successors include Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, the co-chairs of Disney’s entertainment unit, and Josh D’Amaro, who leads the parks division. Former top Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs have been brought in to consult on the TV business, which some see as an audition for CEO.
Overall, Bob Iger’s multi-faceted strategy involves cutting costs, building revenue through streaming, addressing Hollywood strikes, and striving for a successful CEO transition. These initiatives will help shape the future of Disney and its position in the entertainment industry.