Bob Iger's First 100 Days: the Report Card
How's the second term going? Unpacking his moves around Marvel, parks, ESPN and Hulu
A headline popped across my desk a few weeks back...
It’s funny, because I could only imagine what would have happened if former Disney CEO Bob Chapek made the same move. Would he have been excoriated in some outlets and social media channels? Almost certainly!
It got me thinking about how we feel differently about Chapek and current CEO Bob Iger in the first place. I don’t want to indulge in too much media criticism — as others have laid out, what we mean by the “media” is fairly broad — but in our little entertainment-focused corner of the media, we definitely seem to have “good guys” and “bad guys”. AT&T? Bad guys. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav? Good guy for saving Warner Bros. from AT&T. After he cancelled Batgirl? Bad guy!
I’ll admit, there’s a seductive quality to this analysis: if you can just determine what is good or bad by who you like, it makes your job as much easier!
Largely, Iger has been considered a “good guy”. But could the tough decisions that he has made and continue to make move him to the “bad guy” column, even briefly? As we just surpassed the 100-day mark of the second Iger administration (it’s been 102 days, to be exact), as I did for Zaslav after his first 100 days, I want to take stock of how Iger has fared in his return to the helm so far.
One note: though I’m loathe to mention him, activist investor Nelson Peltz was probably the story of the first 100 days. He called off his campaign after Iger committed to cost cuts and potentially restore the Disney dividend at the end of this year. My gut is Iger mostly conceded to things he planned to do anyways, but a noisy campaign in the media was something Disney did NOT need, so good on Iger for resolving it.
To assess the first 100 days, I’ll run through three parts:
The key strategic decision facing Disney, whether to appease Wall Street or focus on the long term.
An analysis of each of Disney’s business units, accompanied by my report card and strategic recommendations.
What I think is the biggest question Iger still has left to answer (hint: it rhymes with “GESPN” and “Gulu”).