NEW YORK (CNN) Bob Iger’s vision for Disney is coming into focus.
Appearing at Morgan Stanley’s annual technology, media and telecoms conference, Iger spoke at length about the future of the entertainment goliath he’s once again leading and gave an insight into his plans for the media powerhouse.
The CEO touched on a wide range of topics, including Disney+, Marvel, “Star Wars,” and Hulu, among others. Here are some of the key takeaways:
► Quality over quantity: Iger said the company will focus on quality over quantity as Disney seeks to reduce the cost of producing television and films. Iger said he’s “satisfied” with the support he’s getting from “company content creators” and that they agree that a key part of cutting costs is “understanding how much volume” is actually needed.
► Disney+ pricing was ‘off’: Iger said he remains ‘generally bullish on streaming as a great consumer proposition’ but that he believes in Disney’s ‘zeal to grow global subscribers’ the company is ‘off on on… pricing strategy.” Iger said Disney is “starting to learn more about it now” and will “adjust accordingly.”
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► Too many Marvel sequels: Noting that there are many characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Disney can draw on to tell new stories, Iger suggested that the company may have over-relied on sequels based on existing franchises. “Do you need a third or fourth, or is it time to move on to other characters?” Iger asked, adding that audiences should expect “a lot of new things” in the future. “We’re going to revisit the Avengers franchise, but with a whole different set of Avengers,” Iger said.
► “Very cautious” on “Star Wars”: Iger said the company is also “very cautious” about its approach to the “Star Wars” franchise. Citing Solo’s “disappointing” box office performance, Iger said it gave the company a “pause.”
► Study Hulu ‘very carefully’: Iger said Disney is ‘studying’ Hulu’s business, which he owns two-thirds, ‘very, very carefully’. He said that “the environment is very, very difficult right now” and that “before we make any big decisions about our level of investment and commitment to this business, we want to understand where it might be going.”
► “Bullish” about ESPN’s future: Iger praised ESPN’s ratings and push into streaming, saying its 25 million subscribers are “nothing to scoff at.” Iger added, “When you combine the power of live sports and the brand and value of advertising, you can build a business that depends not just on subscribers, but on advertising and subscriber revenue. I think there’s reason to be optimistic.” But he added: “That doesn’t mean we’re not open-minded about his future, but right now we’re optimistic.”
► Third-party licensing: Iger said Disney can again create content for its competitors. “As we try to reduce the content that we create for our own platforms, there are likely opportunities to out-license to third parties,” Iger said. “For a while, that was something we couldn’t possibly do because we loved our own streaming platforms so much. But if we get to a point where we need less content for those platforms, if we still have the capacity to produce that content, why not increase sales?”
► Theme park pricing “too aggressive”: Iger acknowledged that Disney got it wrong on theme park pricing. “In our eagerness to increase profits, we may have been a little too aggressive with some of our pricing,” Iger said. “I think there’s an opportunity to continue growing this business, but be smarter about pricing so we keep the brand equity of accessibility.”
► About Iger’s own future: What’s at the top of Iger’s to-do list? Working on his final exit. “The successor is at the top of the list,” said Iger, adding: “My aim is basically to leave here in two years on a very optimistic and positive course.”