Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, once an evangelist for releasing films digitally at the same time as DVD, doesn’t sound much like a cheerleader for the concept now. Rather, he sounds like a guy eager to temper expectations and appease DVD retailers, suspicious of Disney’s close ties to Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes.
On Tuesday’s Q2 conference call, Iger said Disney’s experiment with Comcast, in which it released some films on VOD on the same day as the DVD release, had “not been conclusive.” He said it had no negative impact on DVD sales, but he wasn’t ebullient about the upside (increased digital sales), except to say that over the next five years, day-and-date releases “will be a positive to our business.”
Compare that with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, who last week last week declared day-and-date releases the future of the home video business. Bewkes claimed that in markets where TWX tried day-and-date releases, DVD rentals went down 3%-5%, but sales went up. More importantly, Time Warner earns a 60% to 70% margin on electronic sales compared to 20% to 30% on a DVD rental.