Bob Iger shared a gloomy outlook on the future of movies and traditional television in an interview Wednesday at the Code Conference in Los Angeles.
However, the former Disney CEO was particularly optimistic about the growing number of streaming services encompassing Madison Avenue, including Disney+, but predicted that not all of the current market entrants would survive in the long run.
“Advertising will thrive in the world of streaming,” Iger told moderator Kara Swisher from the Beverly Hilton stage. “I think what Netflix is going to do in advertising, what Disney announced, are smart moves because it will give consumers choice.”
Iger took a dim view of the movie business in theaters, making it clear that he doesn’t think “movies will ever come back in terms of getting back to the level they were at before the pandemic.”
He went on to say that the success of big streaming shows like “House of the Dragon” and “The Mandalorian” has caused him to rethink some of the conventional wisdom he used to believe to be true.
“The movie industry used to argue that you couldn’t create a cultural impact without people going to the movies from all over the world on the same weekend,” he said. “I no longer agree. I probably made that argument at some point.”
Another notion he was forced to rethink, he admitted, was the prospect of Apple TV+ succeeding as quickly as it has. “I was on the board of Apple when they decided to get into the streaming TV and movie business,” he said. “I thought it would take a long time. They’ve done better than I expected them to because it wasn’t a business they were in at all.”
Iger said he was still bullish on Disney because the company had leaned heavily toward streaming and its reliance on rapidly declining traditional media businesses was dampened by its success with theme parks. He was less optimistic about the fortunes of other unnamed conglomerates that were not as diversified. “If you’re just in the channel business, you’re in a world of pain,” Iger said.
Iger was not asked or commented on the reported tensions between him and his successor, Bob Chapek.
Iger said he spends most of his time in retirement advising a number of startups he’s invested in and working on a sequel to his first book, due for publication in 2024. He dismissed any suggestion he’s interested in applying. for any political office or even sit on the board of directors of any important company.
Iger was pressured by the circumstances surrounding his promotion to CEO at Disney in late 2004 and early 2005. He disputed the characterization that his predecessor, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, “beat him up” on the way to the job. higher. He noted that he currently has a good relationship with Eisner.
Iger recounted Disney’s flirtation with the purchase of Twitter in 2017, a potential deal that he characterized as being very close to being finalized until he had last-minute reservations about the incivility and hate speech he saw as rampant on that social platform. . In a comment echoing the ongoing controversy surrounding billionaire Elon Musk’s search for Twitter and the prevalence of bots on the platform, he noted that Disney’s assessment of Twitter user volume concluded that a “ substantial part was not real,” he said, refusing to specify percentages but making it clear that it fell short of a majority.
When pressed by Swisher for his opinion on Musk’s actions towards Twitter, he responded: “Maybe he saw what I saw, woke up and said, ‘I can’t handle this.’ But he doesn’t seem like the type, and I mean that flatteringly.”