Commentary

Is Disney Taking On Netflix? Think Road Trip With Plenty Of Stops, Starts

Waiting for Walt Disney to become the next Netflix? Keep waiting. It will be difficult, even with an ever bigger Disney.

On CNBC, Tom Rogers, former CEO, TiVo, and now executive chairman of WinView, said Disney will need to spend billions to catch up. And that’s just the start of this tale.

“Chasing Netflix isn’t about just buying Fox," says Rogers. “It the first chapter in a multi-chapter story about whether or not you catch Netflix.”

“Fox has a lot of content tied up in HBO [and HBO Now, its SVOD platform]. Much of Disney's product is tied up elsewhere. Not the least of which is -- if they don’t get Sky -- Comcast has a lot of Disney product caught up there.”

He adds: “They have to figure out how to get through Hulu, and they have to spend billions on more original content. What they are getting from Fox won’t begin to make a dent on the global Netflix franchise."

Plus, he believes earnings will probably crumble from all these new expenditures.

Bob Iger, chairman-CEO, Walt Disney, weighed in on the ever-growingTV choices on a recent earnings call. “We've always believed we have the brands and content to be extremely competitive and to thrive alongside Netflix, Amazon and anyone else in the market."

Maybe. For sure, you can’t rule out Disney. But think about its other businesses. Rogers says that with Fox, Disney will now control about 50% of U.S. theatrical movie production. That’s a big deal. But all that is still tied to theaters -- not to a mostly in-home TV-based digital video subscription-on-demand service.

Can Disney really serve two entertainment masters? Iger says Disney will have priorities: “There will be a significant amount of support given across all of our assets to see to it that the product launches successfully.”

Also, Disney must distinguish itself from the competition. This is where the word “quality” comes in. Iger adds: “Brands matter more than ever, as do our incredible portfolio of high-quality, in-demand branded content.”  

Consumers will jump if Disney can deliver. 

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