Disney forced to juggle: New directions beckon

Disney’s push into online and mobile channels is creating a tenuous relationship with the entertainment giant’s traditional media partners, Robert Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Co., said yesterday.

    “(It) creates a pretty interesting dynamic between ourselves and our traditional partners because they’re facing a threat from these new platforms, which in some ways we are aiding and abetting,” he added.

    Disney is trying to remain in favor with mainstream distributors as it leverages more content in the new media, Iger said at the Boston College Chief Executive’s Club.

     The growth of online and mobile media is eating away at the business of traditional media outlets.

    As consumers demand to watch more content on the Internet, cell phones and iPods, entertainment providers such as Disney are shoring up their new media offerings.

    Last month ABC – Disney’s television network – made four programs, including “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” available for free over the Internet. Since then 3 million programs have been downloaded, Iger said.

    “You can imagine some of the conversations that we have today with movie theater owners, television affiliates and large retailers like Wal-Mart,” Iger said.

    Consumer demand for content online takes a toll on movie theaters, which typically get first-run screening rights on major films. Iger indicated that window of time – usually around three and a half months – might have to shrink in the future.

    Iger declined to say when and if Disney planned to make films more immediately available online.


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