A new report from Bloomberg reveals that sources within the Walt Disney Company claim it intends to sell a large majority of its exclusive content to rival distributors.
Previously, with the transition of CEO Bob Iger to now former CEO Bob Chapek, along with the acquisition of properties such as Lucasfilms, Marvel Studios, and most recently, 20th Century Fox, the company focus shifted onto streaming distributions. According to the article, Disney is once again considering licensing much of its film and television content to “rival media outlets” due to mounting pressure to recoup its losses incurred by the departure from other platforms and theatrical runs in favor of prioritizing streaming via Disney+.
The measure would enable Disney to “earn more cash from its library of content,” says Bloomberg, hopefully reversing the “costly” shift from licensing deals to exclusively containing most content within Disney+ and Hulu, a decision which lost Disney “billions of dollars from home video sales and licensing deals with other networks.” Indeed, the 2022 fiscal year saw Disney stock drop to new lows, with poor results revealed during its quarterly earnings call, such as a reported “$1.5 billion loss for its online video business in the third quarter.”
Worse yet, Chapek’s preoccupation with Disney’s unprofitable streaming platform led to neglect for Disney Parks & Resorts, resulting in poor Guest service quality, expensive price hikes, and overall Guest dissatisfaction, which Iger is now working to reverse. In fact, many cite this poor performance as the reason why Disney’s board fired Chapek and brought his predecessor Iger out of retirement to return to the helm.
Moving forward, Iger has attempted to address rising theme park costs and implement a new reorganization of Disney company structure, putting decision-making control back in the hands of creative executives and Company heads like Dana Walden, Jimmy Pitaro, Alan Bergman, and CFO Christine McCarthy. In addition, Iger plans to release three years’ worth of future films in theaters rather than direct to Disney+, and as stated, is in talks to sell more of its existing content to third parties and create content for “a number of platforms” in deals similar to those currently underway at competitors like Lions Gate Entertainment and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.
Even so, it’s unclear if Disney would return to licensing its existing animated library, along with Disney Channel programming, to other distributors but keep the original content created for its streaming platforms, such as the Mandolorian and High School Musical: the Musical: the Series on Hulu and Disney+. As reported by theme park journalist Scott Gustin, Iger will likely address all these issues more during Disney’s upcoming earnings call this month.