Dis­ney de­liv­ers stream­ing pitch

The Weekend Australian - - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - BEN FRITZ

Walt Dis­ney chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Iger dis­closed new de­tails on stream­ing ser­vices and the Star Wars film fran­chise as the com­pany re­ported de­clines in three of its four core busi­nesses for its lat­est quar­ter.

Mr Iger would not com­ment on re­ports Dis­ney pur­sued an ac­qui­si­tion of 21st Cen­tury Fox’s en­ter­tain­ment as­sets and de­clined to take ques­tions on the topic dur­ing a con­fer­ence call.

Dis­ney is de­vel­op­ing new tele­vi­sion se­ries based on some of its big­gest fran­chises — Star Wars, Mon­ster Inc, High School Mu­si­cal and Marvel — that will be car­ried on a Net­flix-style stream­ing ser­vice set to launch in the sec­ond half of 2019, Mr Iger told an­a­lysts.

They were the first spe­cific pro­gram­ming an­nounce­ments Dis­ney had made about the ser­vice. By plac­ing such pre­mium con­tent there, rather than on its ca­ble chan­nels or ABC net­work, the com­pany is sig­nalling that it views the di­rect-to-con­sumer of­fer­ing as a high pri­or­ity.

Mr Iger also pro­vided some in­for­ma­tion on pric­ing for the ser­vice, say­ing it will be “sub­stan­tially be­low” that of Net­flix be­cause it will start with “sub­stan­tially less vol­ume”.

Net­flix cur­rently charges be­tween $US8 and $US12 ($10.40-$15.60) a month. As Dis­ney adds more con­tent to its ser­vice af­ter 2019, the CEO said, the price could in­crease.

Mr Iger also revealed that an ESPN dig­i­tal of­fer­ing sched­uled for next year would de­but in the north­ern spring and be called ESPN Plus. It will be part of a re­designed ESPN app that in­cludes sports scores and high­lights along with con­tent from the ca­ble net­work avail­able only to peo­ple with a pay-TV sub­scrip­tion. The dig­i­tal of­fer­ing will in­clude sports such as ten­nis that don’t air on ca­ble.

AFP

Walt Dis­ney CEO Robert Iger with Min­nie and Mickey

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