Disney CEO Bob Iger appeared on Squawk Box on CNBC at 8 AM Thursday morning. One of the biggest takeaways from this interview was Iger extending his contract, making him CEO until 2026. He said the work he is doing is transformative, and that is why he needs another two years to ensure it all gets done. Faber joked about retirement and how he might never reach it.
Iger said he enjoyed his 11 months of retirement, but he came back because the board requested that he return. The board realized there was more work to do, and it couldn’t be done in two years, so they asked him to extend his contract. He also mentioned that the board is very pleased with what he has accomplished in this short time.
They also touched on business, streaming, and box office numbers.
Iger said business is more challenging now than when he started this role again, but he is extremely optimistic about the company. He mentioned that the parks business is one of their best-performing businesses. Iger also said they have to look at no-growth businesses and costs and that they will be expansive. Faber asked if Iger would be willing to sell networks. Iger said they’re open to anything and that those businesses aren’t core to Disney.
Faber moved the convo to ESPN, and Iger mentioned that Disney’s position is very unique with them, but they are trying to be open-minded with it. He said that sports are an advertiser’s dream. Overall, Disney wants to stay in the sports business but is open to ideas for ESPN, such as strategic partnerships. Iger is excited about bringing ESPN direct to consumers but didn’t say when he expects that will happen. ESPN+ is a start, but he is looking at everything. He told Faber that there are conversations that have been had about the possibilities for ESPN, but he didn’t want to elaborate on that during the interview.
Iger reminded us that Hulu will be available within Disney+ by the end of the calendar year. Faber then mentions that Comcast might want the last piece of Hulu.
Faber asked about Disney’s recent box-office challenges. Iger mentioned how this has happened before but also acknowledged that they need to look at creative ideas. He also admits that they may have overextended with streaming, leading to a diluted focus. When talking about box office success, he mentions Avatar Way of Water. He did talk about Pixar. Iger talked about how putting three films in a row on Disney+ led to an expectation for consumers that they’d be on there soon but also said there were some “creative misses.”
Faber moved the conversation to content and the writers’ strike. Bob said the industry isn’t over the effects of COVID, and now adding this on top is another challenge for this business. He said it imperative to be realistic regarding this, and the strike will continue to make waves in the industry.
Faber asked if Iger thinks the fight with Ron DeSantis is affecting the numbers at Walt Disney World, and he said, “No.” Still, he mentioned that when the parks reopened, things were different due to a lot being closed, but now there’s more competition because everything is open again. Iger was asked if he is concerned about a decrease in park attendance and said he isn’t. Faber brought up Ron DeSantis again and how they will continue to go about this while he is still in office.
He said publically that Disney has spoken about free speech, and how Desantis retaliated. Iger mentioned the lawsuit Disney filed to protect their freedom of speech. He also said, “It’s not our goal to be involved in a culture war. “Our goal is to continue to tell wonderful stories and have a positive impact on the world.” Iger also said that DeSantis’ repeated allegation that Disney is “in any way sexualizing children, quite frankly, just is preposterous and inaccurate.”
Faber also brought up the recent WSJ article that mentioned declining crowds. Iger responded by saying that Walt Disney World is where the Disney brand lives in its most sublime form. He also said that the article was “not accurate” and “focused on crowds on July 4th” Then he said it made sense many people weren’t in the parks that day because the heat and humidity were very high. To follow this, a question about pricing was brought up. Iger said the pricing at the theme parks is not a concern and that he has no longer-term concerns about the parks business.
They ended the interview with Faber asking Iger why he continues to stay with Disney. Iger said it’s because he has a passion for the company, its businesses, and the future of the company. He also mentions he loves his team and how talented they are. Iger also says they are very optimistic about the things his team wants to do. Iger says, “We aren’t in this for the short term; the company is turning 100.”
Hi, I'm Erica, and I write about all things Disney. Before working for The DIS, I was a theme park performer at SeaWorld, but I also performed at Disney. I have such an immense love for theme parks to the point I studied them in college.