“I don’t think all streamers are the same,” Bob Iger said bluntly today at the 2022 Code Conference. “I don’t think they all make it.”
“There will be rich and poor,” the former House of Mouse boss added, unsurprisingly praising Disney+, Netflix and the “deep pockets” of Apple and Amazon. “I’m not going to make any predictions about anyone else,” Iger continued, leaving the likes of HBO Max and Peacock hanging in the air.
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If survival of the fittest for streaming was on the casually dressed former CEO’s mind on Wednesday, so was the future of movies and online TV, and the future is bleak from Iger’s point of view. .
“Linear and satellite television is marching towards a great precipice and will be pushed back,” said the man who worked for and ostensibly controlled ABC for years, prophesying a “world of pain” to come. “I can’t say when, but it’s gone,” he added in a firm voice. In terms of the big screen, Iger praised the communal experience of going to the movies, noting that the movie business was far from dead, but stated that it was simply “smaller” now.
“I don’t think movies will ever go back to the level they were before the pandemic,” Iger said, pointing to the “permanent scars” suffered since March 2020, when most of the world went into lockdown due to Covid. “Competition, choice … replaces going to the movies,” Iger explained of where he believed consumers really are, despite the best hopes and prayers of many studio heads.
This is an “era of great anxiety,” Iger said of the industry in general, “because this is an era of great transformation.”
With that, mocked as the “prince of cashmere” by host Kara Swisher in her introduction, and side efforts for him to denigrate Warner Bros Discovery chief David Zaslav and his own Disney predecessor Michael Eisner, the relatively laid-back Iger pulled it off too. pretty clear he’s out of the entertainment executive game, really. “I don’t miss my job,” added Iger, a 47-year Disney veteran, less than a year after leaving his top-tier job. “Retirement is great, I have a very different life than before. Much more air in my day.”
Often whispered as a candidate for electoral ambitions, Iger declared, “I don’t plan on running for office… that’s just what I said.”
Kicking off his Code session with the greatest hits of his career and a self-described “miss” (also known as Maker Studios) of his attempts to harness “the disruptive effects of digital technology,” Iger spoke Wednesday about the lessons he learned from the lots of shelf space. and “easy to use” Netflix in the early years of the last decade. “At Disney, we were the first studio to license movies to Netflix,” said the former CEO and chairman. “We had been selling nuclear weapons technology to a third world country, and now they were using it against us,” he added of the harsh realities of deals made with Netflix and the industry-altering gravitational pull toward the streamer.
Following the likes of candid Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the red chair, Iger’s appearance onstage at the well-air-conditioned Beverly Hills Hilton today comes just two days before Disney and current CEO Bob Chapek kick off the 100th. House of Mouse anniversary at the D23 conference in Anaheim. Still a frequent presence today on the high-powered Sun Valley circuit and a high-ranking member of Tinseltown’s gossipy Star Chamber, Iger finally exited Disney in December 2021.
Since Iger’s prolonged retirement during the first year and a half of the pandemic, a series of missteps at the Magic Kingdom have repeatedly fueled the rumor mill into overdrive about his opinion of Chapek’s successor and the duo’s relationship. For a city that thrives on gossip, the talk has ebbed in recent weeks as Disney shares have rebounded, the company’s digital platforms are surging and the packed theme park is filling corporate coffers.
Iger, 71, well positioned on a plethora of startups and well-selected boards, said today that he is working on another book and being “entrepreneurial” at the moment.
Speaking of entrepreneurs, Iger was followed on Code Wednesday by one-woman industry Issa Rae.