“Never Gone Out of Vogue”: Disney TV Crushes Competition, but Bob Iger Bets It All on Disney+ Streaming

in Disney, Television

Bob Iger with a serious expression standing beside the iconic disney logo with a blue gradient background.

Credit: Inside the Magic

The Walt Disney Company is pushing full steam ahead with streaming media, and CEO Bob Iger is determined to make Disney+ a profitable mega-app, no matter how much it costs. But a new report shows that while Disney is laser-focused on streaming, it is actually crushing the competition in traditional TV.

Bob Iger with a serious expression, beside the white disney logo on a blue gradient background.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Bob Iger and the Future of Disney Streaming

Disney is one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging media conglomerates in the world, with its white-gloved fingers in everything from film and television distribution to music production and publication to old-fashioned print media. Now that Disney owns legendary studios like Walt Disney Pictures and Animation Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, and Marvel Studios, it has one of the deepest catalogs of content in history.

Despite the breadth of its holdings, Disney CEO Bob Iger has determined that the company’s future is in streaming. Since it was launched in 2019, the Disney+ service has increasingly dominated the corporation’s direction. It has been used to launch high-profile new series from Marvel and Star Wars and premiere films like Black Widow (2021) (much to the ire of Scarlett Johansson and her lawyers) and is reportedly being molded into an all-inclusive shopping app in addition to entertainment.

A woman holding shopping bags with the Disney+ logo
Credit: Disney/Canva, edited by ITM

Related: MCU Officially Abandons Disney+, Moves to Rival Streaming App

Disney is even going as far as to include its Disney+ streaming service in an unprecedented streaming bundle that will include the Disney-owned Hulu and Max, a direct competitor owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. Bob Iger sees a future in which everyone is signed up for Disney+, which also includes Hulu and ESPN+, no matter what.

The problem is that streaming is in trouble. This last fiscal quarter was the first time Disney+ managed to make a marginal profit, which had the effect of actually dropping the Disney stock price to its lowest point in 18 months. That is not a great indication of investor confidence.

In the five years since its launch, Disney+ has cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars with very little return on investment. Bob Iger is doing everything from loading the app with ads to adding Hulu content (as mentioned above), partnering with the company’s direct rivals, and rebranding to try to make it make sense.

Disney+ logo superimposed over a circular shopping mall
Credit: Disney/Canva, edited by ITM

But at the same time, Disney television is actually doing great with almost no fanfare or attention.

Traditional Disney TV Wins Big

According to recent data from Nielsen Media Research, Disney far outperforms any other media conglomerate in terms of viewing time. Streaming, cable, and broadcast are all factored into the data, but interestingly, streaming only accounts for a minority of the total time.

Bar chart titled "The Media Distributor Gauge" showing Nielsen's aggregated view of total TV usage by media company. Top media companies and their percentages are: The Walt Disney Company (11.5%), YouTube (9.6%), NBCUniversal (8.9%), Paramount (8.8%), and Warner Bros. Discovery (8.2%).
Credit: Nielsen

In the last six months, Disney-owned TV accounts for a whopping 11.5% of all television viewing time, compared to YouTube’s 9.6% and NBCUniversal’s 8.9%. Disney’s properties include Hulu and Disney+, but those add up to 4.9% of viewing time, and more than half of the company’s total is through broadcast and cable. In fact, cable television was the only platform that rose in total time across the board, meaning people were choosing to watch via old-fashioned cable while they actively consumed less streaming time.

Related: NEW: Disney+ Dissolved, Returns to Cable TV

Disney logo over a skyscraper
Credit: Inside the Magic

It is also worth noting that the relative success of streaming services Disney+ and Hulu is rooted in the deep catalog of Disney’s broadcast channels. Disney Television Group President Craig Erwich explained (via Variety), “Broadcast shows, whether they be procedurals or family-friendly comedies, have never gone out of vogue, and now, these deep libraries, which broadcast shows have a unique ability to become over the long run, are fueling the streaming platforms.”

While streaming content may be considered the future of entertainment, it is clear that it is still heavily reliant on traditional TV. While every media company is trying to bundle all its streaming together (Apple TV+ with Peacock and Netflix, Disney+ with Hulu and Max) in a desperate effort to consistently make a profit, they might just want to look at the traditional TV platforms they already have.

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