Blog Post

@ Media Dealmakers Summit: Disney’s Kevin Mayer: Ultimately Hulu Should Be Hybrid

At the tres civilized Pierre in Manhattan this morning where the 8th Annual Media Dealmakers Summit kicked off with Disney’s Kevin Mayer. A lot of talk about the recent Marvel (NYSE: DIS) acquisition, a very big bet by Disney, but inevitably the question of Hulu and pay models came up. Or as Mayer put it: “The question is and will continue to be what is the right way to monetize.” His take? Any media company in that business should be looking at four models — free/ad-supported, subscription, download sales, streaming rental — and offering a mix that gives consumers as many options as possible. “I think ultimately we should have that and we will,” Mayer said. No sense of timing on anything beyond the current ad-supported model.

Why did Disney finally join the Hulu joint venture with News Corp.and NBC Universal? This is the kind of question Mayer wrestles with constantly as EVP-corporate strategy, business development and technology, “If you believe that in the aggregation of professional video content, which we came to believe and it’s useful for the consumer, then you define the opportunity space and figure are we the best people to be an aggregator?” Disney decided it shouldn’t be in the business of aggregating other companies’ content, in part, Mayer said, because it didn’t have the branded presence. “To fulfill the promise of the opportunity we identified, it had to a partnership.”

Applying that strategic approach to some other Disney endeavors, Disney is approaching video games through a combination of organic and acquisitions — and bought Marvel because recreating anything like it from the ground up would have been too hard. Why leave it as Marvel? The Disney brand doesn’t hurt Marvel but it doesn’t enhance it.

ESPN 3D: With 3D still far from anything close to critical mass, why invest in ESPN 3D? In part, because it’s not a big investment. Mayer said much of the cost is being defrayed by sponsors. Why launch it? It’s a brand move. ESPN has always been on the leading edge of technology and this fits in.