Disney Sees Digital Paying Off

Written by Michael Mascioni, who writes about digital media, video and other similar subjects for such publications as Media Week and Future Media.

Not only is Disney’s digital revenue forecast to grow to $1 billion this year from $750 million the year before, but according to CEO and president Bob Iger, it expects much greater growth in digital revenue over the next three years through the application of an array of business models including “direct sales, VOD, micropayments, and advertising.”

The growth that Iger referred to during his talk at the 2008 Media Summit in N.Y. this week is reflected in the 4 million downloads of Disney movies and the roughly 40 million to 50 million downloads of Disney TV programs, but he took care to emphasize the increasing role of original online content at Disney as well. Iger also noted that much of that content was intended for distribution beyond the Internet, though “not all short-form Internet content has extensions on other platforms.”

Social media has become an increasingly important component of the company’s online strategy. Building on Disney’s acquisition of the virtual world Club Penguin and other projects, the company is expanding its efforts with virtual worlds and online communities for such properties as Pirates of the Caribbean and Disney Princess.

And Iger claims to have become an avid social media user himself: He’s installed a “basketball net” in his igloo in Club Penguin, and has a Facebook account with “two friends.”