Challenged during the Disney (NYSE: DIS) earnings call to defend the company’s narrow online video distribution, CEO Bob Iger did just that — then said the company will expand the number of online outlets.
An analyst asked why Disney has the fewest online outlets and a “closed architecture.” Iger, who signed Disney to the first iTunes video deal, responded by bringing up a recent agreement with AOL, (NYSE: TWX) “which is a pretty significant platform in terms of distributing the product.” He added: “We’re going to take a pretty expansive view. .. We’re going to be on more places than iTunes, ABC.com and AOL.” (He skipped over a mention of the possible effect of Steve Jobs as a Disney board member and shareholder.)
He described it as an interesting debate, explaining that the original idea of amassing most of the video on ABC.com was to promote the shows, use the site to upsell and “it also became a pretty good platform for advertisers.” But, he admitted, “long term, if we’re going to drive greater circulation, we need to put them on more platforms. I don’t believe we need to put them on any platform.”
Without naming names, Iger referred to a desire for a high-quality user interface and an environment “that’s right for the product we create” and not lumped in with a massive amount of product that varies greatly in quality.
Update: Had to go back to the audio to check some stats Iger dished out: In the 18 months or so since ABC.com started streaming episodes, users have started around 160 million episodes while buyers have downloaded 33 million shows through iTunes. Disney continues to view online viewing as additive and to tout the high recall rates for ads. Iger said the company is also “collecting better information about who our consumers are.”
Gaming: Disney continues to invest in virtual worlds; a Cars world is under construction now. On the console gaming side, Iger said the company is “making solid progress.”