This is what happens when you let modern-day corporate managers run a media company that necessarily relies upon a constant flow of “creative” content (what ever that is). They’re a lot more interested in the process than the product, and it’s a great way of losing your bearings.
Disney CEO Bob Iger in a recent interview in Barron’s on the company’s new emphasis on direct-to-consumer streaming distribution:
In the conversation we had with the comp[ensation] committee about this, when there were a couple questions asked—“Well, what are the metrics?”—and I said, no, this can’t be about the metrics near term. We’re going to grow subs, obviously. That will become a metric. But we’ve got to launch the product first. We haven’t even decided what we’re going to charge for it. So if you’re going to look for traditional metrics to measure performance, it’s not going to work.
And they said, “Well, what will work?” and I said the most important thing for these executives is that they create great content for this platform. And I will know whether they have. And instead of setting numerical targets, you set different kind of targets. It’ll change over time with how many subs we get. Initially it needs to be—I need everyone to step up and make more great stuff.
How about providing enough stuff. And, this big tech rollout could affect compensation?
Our studio makes between eight and 10 movies a year, and they’re big budget, hopefully big box-office films, that really belong, we believe, on the big screen. We’re not looking to take one of those and put it on this platform. When we made the announcement, we said we’re going to make original movies for the platform. A number of ideas were pitched.
Btw, how is “the platform” different from “the service”?
Here’s an example of the “ideas.”
Other than one, which was being contemplated for the big screen but wasn’t a big movie, none of them were in development as big-screen movies. One of them that we’re making for the platform is a remake of Lady and the Tramp. There was not one discussion about whether we should make that for the big screen. Everybody said this is a great story, would love to make it again, let’s make it for what we call “the service” internally.
Unfortunately, the interview doesn’t get any better than him boasting about remakes and recycles.
Almost every movie the studio makes is a $100 million-plus movie, and we’re not looking to make movies at that level for the service. We’re looking to invest significantly in television series on a per-episode business, and we’re looking to make movies that are higher budget, but nothing like that. We wouldn’t make a Star Wars movie for this platform. When everybody goes out on the weekend and you have a movie that opens up to $200 million, there’s a buzz that creates that enhances value. We like that. And eventually the movies we’re making are going to [end up on] the service.
End up on the service. What a future. Like seeing your investment of time and effort ending up at the 99 Cent Store.
And what else? Television programs?
On the television front, we’re kind of at capacity in certain cases. Like the Disney Channel has been at capacity in terms of the number of shows that it buys, and we believed that there was room for the team to start developing other Disney-branded television shows for the service without depriving them of the pipeline that they need for their channels. We’re also making a Marvel series and a Star Wars series.
Between the pipeline, platform, and service, how much “Disney-branded” product can be churned out before the law of diminishing returns begins to kick in? Wherever it happens to end up.
Isn’t there a limit to this cannibalization of the past? Such a poverty of vision this crowd has.