Disney CEO Bob Iger has “his hands full” with obstacles, including an activist investor in Nelson Peltz, major strategic decisions regarding Hulu and Disney’s linear channels, and developing a company plan for the future.

Candle Media CEO and former top Disney executive Kevin Mayer claims he was welcomed back into the Disney fold as a strategic adviser to Iger with this context in mind.

“I can’t tell you what advice I’m giving to Bob and, I suppose, to the board, but, look, he needed some part of his team back,” Mayer remarked on Tuesday morning at the Yahoo! Finance Invest conference in New York. “He returned to a company that had changed dramatically.” The former administration under Bob Chapek made numerous judgments that Bob Iger would not have made if he were CEO… But when you return to a scenario where there has been a significant change from when you left, and the team that you previously had and relied on has vanished. It put him in a position where he really wanted some people he trusted to tell him what they thought, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not putting in a lot of time, but I’ve been with the company for a long time.”

READ MORE: Disney Wants To Sell A Portion Of ESPN, And Apple Is Said To Be A Potential Buyer For The $24 Billion Network

In a deal with Comcast, Disney will acquire full control of Hulu.
Mayer claims that Iger was one of the “best CEOs in American history” and felt obligated to return to Disney. He was unhappy “to see the company not live up to the standards that he had set forth, so stepping back into it was something I think he felt that he had to do.”

ESPN is at the top of Iger’s list of objectives.

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“He’s definitely most focused on making sure that ESPN, a company that he really believes in strongly, is well positioned for the future,” Mayer told Yahoo’s Alexandra Canal, adding that when it comes to partnering, “we want to have content partners who can really strengthen our hand and allow us to create multiple tiers of offerings.” We also want distribution partners.”

But Iger is also thinking about what comes next for Disney after the “uncertainty” surrounding the company’s linear networks is resolved.

“It depends on how Bob Iger ends up reconfiguring [the company], it really does,” Mayer told the audience. “It could be a Disney that has a majority ownership of ESPN with some really great partners, still running ESPN in an over-the-top service and in the bundle.”

Regarding the remaining Disney linear channels, such as Freeform, Disney Channel, and ABC:

“Those may or may not be part of the company,” she said. “Maybe they’re put in some sort of joint venture, you can imagine all sorts of different dispositions for those assets, but then you’re left with the core of the company, which I think is an amazing core.”

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“The core brands are Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar… There are other franchises that exist beneath those brands. They’re all present. “They’re also extremely powerful business platforms,” he noted. “There’s streaming, which I believe will be profitable very soon… and their theme parks.” People overlook consumer goods, which are a hugely profitable sector for the Walt Disney Company.”

And there is one sector in which Disney is not a large participant, but Mayer believes it should investigate.

“Games is the one place where I think Disney has not yet made a substantial investment,” he told reporters. “It’s also a location where individuals may connect with or spend a significant amount of time with their favorite characters in context… So gaming is the final major type of business platform. You plug that into those main assets, and you have an absolutely fantastic growth trajectory regardless of what happens to those linear networks.”

With Blackstone as a backer, Candle Media will inevitably be sold, according to Mayer. This could occur through an initial public offering (“when the time is right”), a “strategic” sale to a larger entertainment company, or a transaction with another private equity firm.


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