Disney CEO on iPod Content Deal (DIS, AAPL)

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Includes: AAPL, DIS
by: Yankee Group

By Carl Howe

Monday's Wall Street Journal has a great interview (sub. req.) with Disney (ticker: DIS) CEO Robert Iger about the effects of the video iPod and why Disney felt the benefits of doing the deal outweighed the risks:

Firstly, we'll learn more about consumer behavior and using new technology in a new window with different pricing. Secondly, I really wanted to use it as a catalyst to get the company thinking more about breaking with tradition and following the consumer. Interestingly enough, nothing has done more to reignite the company than this deal. It almost has created more value for the company than the deal itself.

I think the troops love the fact that we were first. It's had a great impact on the company's spirit. The feeling is tangible; whether that translates into behavior change is a little too early to tell, except that I do sense that there is a lot of exploration going on at all of our businesses. The other thing that's good is that the company seems to have learned very quickly that it shouldn't be about just making a deal, it has to be the right deal. We've been besieged with other opportunities but instead of just getting in line and just checking off 25 other deals, we're actually being very selective.

And later on in the article, Iger addresses the tyranny of too much in the movie business (although not by name).

I think the business has changed, it's gotten more competitive, but movie companies are following a business-as-usual approach. I'd rather that everybody made fewer movies and they were more selective in the movies they made. I don't think the talent pool has expanded enough to feed the number of movies being made.

WSJ: Will the slate in 2006-2007 reflect that criticism?

Mr. Iger: It will at Disney. I can't speak for the others. We're reducing the number of films. At Miramax, we're using the opportunity of ending the relationship with Harvey and Bob Weinstein to cut back our investment in that business by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Smart guy. I wonder how many other movie executives are getting more selective about the movies they acquire and sell. Of course, he may have been noticing that he's been negotiating with Steve Jobs, whose movie studio has a 100% hit record...