Disney to Re-launch Disney.com to Deliver TV, Film to Consumers

CEO Bob Iger Says Mouse House Has a Chance to Forge Direct Relationships With Consumers

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Walt Disney Co. is planning to deliver film, TV, games and other content directly to consumers through a re-made Disney.com, CEO Bob Iger told the AllThingsD conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.


The site exists today mostly as a promotional vehicle for Disney characters and properties, but Mr. Iger said it is being transformed into an "uber-network for the Disney community," and will include content for streaming and downloading via several economic models, including advertising, "micropayments" and subscriptions.

"We believe we have the opportunity to deliver content directly to consumers through a proprietary platform," Mr. Iger said. It will be a "place to go to learn about all things Disney and to consume our product directly."

Leading the effort is Yahoo's former head of content, Jimmy Pitaro, who joined Disney as co-president of Disney Interactive Media Group last year.

Mr. Iger gave no timetable for the re-launch, but said that consumers would see "elements of it" before the end of the year. The ambitions for it harken back to Disney's attempt to build a portal to the web, Go.com, of which Mr. Iger said some elements "worked and some didn't." The latest re-make will turn the site into the front door for all Disney properties, as well as a source for content. "When people think Disney -- they are interested in multiple aspects. To have them go to multiple destinations would be wrong," he said.

The new strategy will put Disney in competition with some of its own distributors, but Mr. Iger said he views competition among many distributors, such as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix, as healthy.

"We like Hulu for a number of reasons, not just because we are an equity partner," he said. "It's a good user experience, yet another place for people to access our material. It also ends up being important in terms of the dynamic of our relationship with distributors. When you are a content creator, the more distributors the merrier. It keeps them all honest."

Mr. Iger said the company sees opportunity in creating a family-friendly online social environment for children too young for Facebook. "I don't think we will create our own social network," he said. "I think there is space to create a family-friendly environment. Club Penguin is that but we are in advanced thinking on something else."

Asked about the slumping fortunes 3-D films in theaters, Mr. Iger said people are "writing the epitaph of 3-D too early." The company is planning a re-release of "Lion King" in 3-D.

The problem is that a great many 3-D films have been bad films, and consumers resent having paid the premium to see them. "It has to be used on the right film in the right way," he said. "You can't take the approach, 'If you build it they will come.'"

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