The Walt Disney Company’s Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has explained why the company acquired Maker Studios is a deal that could be worth up to $1 billion.
Disney shareholders and Wall Street analysts grilled Iger on that very subject during the company’s first quarterly earnings call since announcing the acquisition. Iger appeared keen to shed some light on his thought process behind the acquisition and his plans for the network.
At the highest level, Disney plans to use the enormous reach of Maker’s partners to help promote its films, TV programs, games, theme parks, digital ventures, and other Disney properties while also transforming the company into a stand-alone platform for both long and short-form content both on and off YouTube.
“We can allow Maker’s people to substantially improve the distribution and reach of shorter form video using these characters and stories and add their expertise on the production side,” Iger said during the call. “We’re excited about entering the short-form video space in a much more assertive manner.
Iger also concedes what Videoter’s Editor suggested all along – That Disney didn’t have the skills necessary to succeed in short-form new media content, so they’re buying their way in, instead: “[We] don’t have the ability, in the near-term, to distribute and sell as effectively [as Maker]. They have expertise…
“Maker’s production talent and leadership will create exciting new opportunities to derive value from our content and create new content as well.”
Supporting the success of Disney’s newly acquired ‘Star Wars’ brand will be an immediate focus for both Maker and Disney, with some insiders speculating that Maker will develop a short web series in support of Star Wars Episode VII, which is expected to begin filming this month. Personally, I’m just waiting to see Maker partner GloZell Green dressed as Princess Leia.
Confused Wall Street analysts also asked how a fledgling multi-channel network like Maker fits in with Disney’s recent world-class acquisitions such as Marvel Entertainment and more recently, Lucasfilm. Iger asserted that Maker had already built “a bit of a brand” to become one of the most successful MCNs in the industry. He also called it a “successful distribution platform… One that can command more eyeballs, more consumption, and more advertising revenue.
“There’s a huge marketing opportunity for this company.”
Disney is the latest entertainment powerhouse to enter new media to re-capture audiences lost to the web and mobile devices. DreamWorks acquired teen-interest network AwesomenessTV in 2013, and it was recently rumored that Hollywood studio Relativity Media is planning to acquire one of Maker’s biggest competitors, Fullscreen.