disney CEO Bob Iger appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Thursday after the company announced it would cut 7,000 jobs and cut $5.5 billion in costs as part of a broader reorganization .
Iger, who returned to the helm of Disney in November, said Thursday that he does not intend to stay in his post for more than two years.
“Well, my plan is to stay here for two years, that’s what my contract said, that was my agreement with the board, and that’s my preference,” Iger said.
Iger acknowledged that he had a lot to do during his short tenure, in addition to helping the board “make the succession work.” The board ousted Bob Chapek last year. He was Iger’s hand-picked successor.
“We thought we made the right decision by choosing Bob [Chapek] in 2020. The board decided in November that he was not the right person for the job and made a change,” Iger said, declining to comment further on what led to the abrupt departure.
Topping the list is Disney’s streaming strategy and the company’s profitability, Iger said Thursday. He called streaming “the future.”
Disney announced this week that as part of its cost-cutting measures, it will cut content costs by $3 billion. Iger’s decisions also settled a dispute between Disney and the head of the Trian activist company, Nelson Peltz.
Peltz called CNBC immediately after Iger’s interview to declare the two sides’ proxy battle over.
“Intoxicated by our own undergrowth”
Disney also said that, as it will focus on profitability of its streaming business by the end of 2024, it will no longer provide guidance on its subscriber count and will instead focus on revenue.
“We may have been intoxicated by our own undergrowth,” Iger said Thursday, noting the low $6.99 price Disney+ entered the market with.
On Thursday, Iger said the company has “price leverage” for its streaming strategy.
Disney announced this week that its direct-to-consumer business posted an operating loss again in its most recent quarter. “We’re still losing money on streaming,” Iger said Thursday. “We need to turn the tide.”
Media executives have started raising the cost of streaming services in a bid to boost profits. Disney’s recent price hike likely resulted in the loss of around 2.4 million Disney+ customers in the quarter.
Disney announced this week that it will build on the strength of its franchise with sequels to fan-favorite films like “Frozen” and “Toy Story.” Iger said Thursday that general entertainment, especially on pay-TV and streaming, was not a “differentiator.”
In addition to Disney+ and ESPN+, Disney also runs Hulu and has until 2024 to buy by Comcast 33% stake in the streaming service to take full control. Whether Disney will acquire the stake remains a question.
“Everything is on the table right now,” Iger said Thursday. He added that leverage is not a concern for Disney at this time, although the company “intends to reduce our debt over time.”
Shares of Disney rose on Thursday after the company’s restructuring announcement and earnings report.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, owner of CNBC.
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