Bob Chapek is aiming for profitability, even as he continues to prepare the Walt Disney Company for an uncertain digital future.
With the company’s stock falling on Wednesday after it fell short of Wall Street estimates (but added more Disney+ subscribers than anticipated), Chapek took to the stage at the Paley Media Center in New York. York, where he tackled the company’s most important short-term maneuver: Making Disney+ and streaming in general a profitable business.
“More and more of our investors want to make sure something is there, there, to get something out of it,” Chapek said, adding that while the company is investing long-term investment in Disney+ to make it Disney’s lifestyle ‘hub’, in the ‘short term, our investors expect us to see a return on that investment’.
He also reiterated what he told analysts Tuesday afternoon, noting that the upcoming Disney+ ad class and price hike will help bring the company closer to its goal and that the service will be able to continue adding subscribers thanks to the new content pipeline and international launches.
He is particularly bullish on advertising, noting that “we have been in the advertising business for a long time, we know what we are doing, we have established clients, we believe we can win” and added that in a “recession environment,” “more price-sensitive” consumers may choose ad-supported plans.
But Chapek is more cautious when it comes to another core Disney business: theatrical movies.
When asked if theatrical films are ready for a return, Chapek replied that “it’s hard to answer, but from our observations, the big, blockbuster movies have certainly been. come back. Also, it gets sketchy. “
“That’s good for us, by the way, because most of our box office hits are blockbusters, and whether they’re Lucas and Marvel and Pixar or Disney that’s where we play,” he said. “Other categories, other demographics are a bit more challenging. And the question of whether they will ever come back in a meaningful way, I think, is to be seen, and that’s why one of our distribution strategies has always been flexibility. “
“If they come back, we’ll be happy to go back to theaters as we’ve had a long history of success in playing more than one revenue stream, but if not, the good news is we’ve got a streaming business is so big that we can go ahead and redirect that content to those channels,” he added.
However, Chapek also paints a picture of Disney’s future.
“More and more, we see Disney as what it has come to be for consumers: A lifestyle brand,” he said, referring to Disney’s upcoming adult community in Palm Springs, targeting consumers who “have more time and discretionary spending”.
And he saw Disney+ as the “hub” of the lifestyle, once that will change and evolve “based on how you engage.”
And that personalization seems to be at the heart of Disney’s “next-generation storytelling” division, which is developing a “toolkit” that will be used by Disney studios to create content experiences. personalized content.
Disney wants to “put these tools into the hands of the Kathy Kennedys, Kevin Feiges, and Dana Waldens and help them really create the next level of storytelling that’s unique to you,” Chapek said.
But he is a bit more optimistic about the metaverse, or at least the vision that seems to have been adopted by Meta Platforms Inc. like.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to replace the theme park experience,” he said, noting that a day-long experience of dining, shopping and living experiences can hardly be replicated. in a virtual environment.
However, he did offer a potential example of how Disney could play in space.
He noted that sometimes guests decide to leave Disney World and Disneyland during the tour, resulting in closures or delays.
“Through the magic of technology, we can give you the ability to get out of your vehicle virtually… And see what makes the Haunted Manor stand out,” he said. and added that a user can then be served Haunted Mansion movies on Disney+.
It’s part of a strategy to keep Disney relevant, as it gets ready to kick off its 100th anniversary in 2023.
“If we just stick to that old model, we know what will happen, don’t we? You are extinct,” Chapek said. “And so our challenge inside Disney is to always try to respect the past, to preserve the past as much as possible. But as consumers tell you, it’s time to move on to something new and fresh. You have to get that signal. “