Monday, April 13, 2020

Report: Disney's Iger Reasserting Control At Disney

Bob Iger
Bob Iger has effectively returned to running Disney, The New York Times notes in a new profile of the company that describes the mood inside as "dire" and highlights a business model that was "almost perfectly exposed to the pandemic."

"The shift from on-screen entertainment into in-person experiences helped Disney become the biggest media company in the world," it says, but those businesses have been impossible to protect from COVID-19 - with cruise lines, theme parks, movie theaters and even ESPN essentially on hiatus.

That means the company is losing $30M or more per day, according to one estimate.

And it means that Iger, who stepped out of the CEO job in late February to become executive chairman, has remained "Bob" inside the company while sidelined new CEO Bob Chapek is referred to as "Bob C."

He had no choice but to change plans, he tells The Times' Ben Smith: "A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!”

Iger, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what the company will look like after the crisis. One central challenge is to establish best practices for the company and the industry on how to bring people back to the parks and rides while avoiding the virus’s spread — using measures like taking visitors’ temperatures.

Mr. Iger also sees this as a moment, he has told associates, to look across the business and permanently change how it operates. He’s told them that he anticipates ending expensive old-school television practices like advertising upfronts and producing pilots for programs that may never air. Disney is also likely to reopen with less office space. He’s also told two people that he anticipated the company having fewer employees.

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