Disney (s DIS) CEO Bob Iger told a tech conference crowd yesterday that his company is interested in putting up more content online, but it won’t be free, and it might require a subscription. From MediaWeek:
“The notion of going online at some point as a subscribe-to, robust entertainment experience is pretty attractive to us,” Iger said. “We are developing such an experience.”
Disney has been a mixed bag when it comes to accessing its content. Prior to Disney’s deal with Hulu, ABC shows were only available at ABC.com. ESPN 360 online video is only available to subscribers of participating ISPs. And Iger was against TV Everywhere-like services before he was for it (kinda).
There have been rumblings of a Disney-only Netflix-like (s NFLX) service for a while now. Granted, Iger didn’t provide any details on what such a service would look like, but will Disney’s desire for money blind it to people’s thirst for simplicity? In other words — how many subscriptions does Disney think people want?
Subscriptions are all the rage right now. Netflix’s all-you-can eat movie subscription model has helped make the company’s stock a winner during this economic downturn. Comcast (s CMSCA) and Time Warner (s TWX) are implementing their TV Everywhere plans, which put some premium content behind a subscription wall. And NBC (s GE) CEO Jeff Zucker has said he’d consider charging a subscription on Hulu.
The beauty of a Netflix or even a cable TV subscription is that I get all my entertainment in one place for one monthly price. With Netflix, I get access to just about any movie or library TV show that I could want. With cable, I get access to every TV channel I want. And for each, I know exactly how much I’ll pay each month, every month.
But if Disney or NBC or any singular studio starts throwing up their own subscription services, that becomes too much — especially if it is at the expense of a service I currently use. Disney would probably be inclined to lock up some of its premium content exclusively behind its own subscription wall. If that meant I got less content through my TV Everywhere subscription, or fewer movie choices through Netflix, suddenly those subscriptions seem less valuable, and I get cranky and I’m more likely to drop them and just pay for things a la carte through iTunes (s AAPL) or Amazon (s AMZN). Not to mention the fact that I don’t want to hunt down the content I’d like to watch, sifting through various, siloed subscription services.