It’s been 100 days since Bob Iger took back the reigns as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Having replaced his own successor, Bob Chapek, Iger dove right in and made some significant changes to all aspects of the Disney Company. But with only a two-year contract in place, Iger still has some critical issues to address.
Iger’s first significant order of business was a complete reorganization of Disney. He created the three prongs of Disney: Disney Entertainment, ESPN, and Disney Parks. With his reorganization, Iger also forced out several executives Chapek put in place and replaced them with his people.
Iger also successfully fended off a proxy fight with investor Nelson Peltz. At the same shareholder meetings, Iger also announced the returns of stock dividends after three years. With the dividends also came the announcement of significant layoffs at the company. Iger estimated that Disney would have to lay off at least 7,000 workers. The combination of the dividends and layoffs caused a four percent increase in the price of Disney’s stock.
On the entertainment side, Iger has said that Disney and Pixar are working on sequels to Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia. The internet had a field day with possible storylines for the new Toy Story film, given how the previous movie seemed to wrap up the sage.
At the resorts, Iger removed the fee for parking your car overnight at all Disney hotels. He also removed restrictions on Annual Pass holders visiting parks after 2 p.m.
With all of that accomplished in his first 100 days, it would seem that Iger has begun to reshape the entire Disney Company. But there remain several open issues that he still has to address.
CNBC’s entertainment reporter Alex Sherman dove into three more significant unresolved issues that Iger is still facing and some possible solutions.
The first problem is what to do with Hulu. Disney owns 66 percent of the streaming service, while Comcast owns 33 percent. Iger told CNBC earlier this year that he was “open to any option” on Hulu. A decision must be made within the next few months, as Disney can buy all of Hulu, which must be exercised by Jan 2024. At that time, Comcast can force Disney to buy the remaining third of the streaming service.
Disney must also decide on ESPN. With many consumers cutting cable, the Worldwide Leader in Sports has been losing money, but sports can be profitable. Iger has to decide if Disney will keep ESPN or try to sell it off. And should Disney keep the Connecticut-based company, how can he make it profitable again?
ESPN has the rights to every major sport in America, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football, and College Basketball. One possible solution is to allow ESPN customers to access all programs broadcast over the air via ESPN+. But Sherman argues Disney is years away from making that happen.
Iger’s final problem is finding his successor. His contract is only for two years, and there is no plan to succeed him after those two years. Several potential internal candidates could step up to the big seat once and if Iger leaves after his contract ends.
Two possible candidates are Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, who Iger recently put in charge of the Entertainment Division of Disney. Another possibility is Josh D’Amaro, who runs Disney Parks. But D’Amaro was there with Chapek and helped eliminate the Disney Fast Pass and institute Disney Genie and Genie+, both of which are unpopular with Park Guests.
After solving several issues facing the Walt Disney Company in his first 100 days, Iger still has some work to complete over the remainder of his contract.
We will continue to report on any changes at the Walt Disney Company here at Disney Fanatic.