One of Bob Iger’s biggest coups since taking control of Disney: Hanging on to Pixar, via a (pricey) acquisition that brought the studio in-house. Bonus part of the deal: A tight connection with former Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, who ended up with a Disney board seat and is now the company’s single largest shareholder.
That connection usually gets cast in a positive light — Disney’s ABC, for instance, was the first network to sell its shows on iTunes. But chatterers have also worried, from the get-go, that wily Jobs would somehow outmaneuver Iger and turn Disney into an arm of Apple. Haven’t seen that yet: Disney, for instance, was willing to sell movies via iTunes, but was reluctant to make its movies available “day and date” on iTunes’ movie rental service. But that doesn’t stop people from asking about it, like during Disney’s earnings call today. Transcript/paraphrase via SAI’s Michael Learmonth:
Are your interests aligned with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, your single largest shareholder? Does he influence how you distribute content digitally?
Iger: Decisions how to distribute content and what to charge for it are made entirely by the management of Disney. Steve is not involved. Decisions of how we distribute content digitally are made by us. I happen to believe that in a world where more and more people are migrating online that the Disney company would be served well be having a strong presence in that environment. Since we decided to put movies in the iTunes platform we have sold 5 million movies. We believe it’s incremental business.
Our ability to monetise will become more evident. You are seeing an expansion of the marketplace and an increase in consumption. We’ve seen that at ABC where access of to TV programs has never been greater and the amount of consumption has never been greater. I think we’ve been driving incremental revenue.
We have no conflict of interest at all. Our decisions are all made for the shareholders of Disney.