Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WD CEO Iger Sez ESPN ‘Best Days’ Lie Ahead

Robert Iger
Walt Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger at an investor conference Tuesday discussed the outlook for Netflix, the cord cutting debate and the future of the entertainment conglomerate's sports content juggernaut ESPN.

According to THR, Iger appeared at the 22nd annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York and was asked about cord cutting by pay TV users. "So far we don't see evidence of this occurring," he said. But he added Disney and others must ensure they are offering content that is as strong as seen in the past via the pay TV bundle. Netflix is a different offer given its focus on library content, he argued.

Iger called the current pay TV network bundle "a really good bargain" for consumers. "I think the consumer is getting a good deal" from a $75 per-month pay TV package as does the pay TV operator, which can sell customers broadband and other services.

Asked about Intel and Sony as possible new broadband video service providers, Iger said Disney is always willing to work with user-friendly platforms whether old or new – as long as they accept content licensing terms in line with Disney's content deals with traditional pay TV firms.

Asked about potential sales or acquisitions of assets, Iger said Disney many years ago sold its newspaper assets and about five years ago its radio business. Overall, he said he was very happy with the overall Disney asset portfolio and reiterated that he didn't see any major purchases on the scale of Pixar, Marvel or Lucasfilm in the near-term.

New sports program deals start kicking in for ESPN in 2014, drawing a question about the network's margin outlook. Iger said ESPN will not rest on its laurels and sees opportunities of growth despite increased competition.

He concluded that ESPN's "best times" are still ahead of it.

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