Disney has received a lot of interest in India to build a theme park, says Bob Iger

MUMBAI: The Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger has said that his company has received offers from interest parties in India to build a theme park in the country. He further stated that Disney has studied the market and has nothing more to say about it.

“There is a very long line of people with a lot of money who would like us to build a theme park in India. We have studied the market. We have nothing more to say about it at this point of time,” Iger said during a question-and-answer session at the 6th Annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit.

Iger also said that the international business is a key area of interest for Disney. He mentioned the Star India business and the kind of growth its direct to consumer platform Hotstar has witnessed in the last few years.

“International growth is really of interest to us. We end up with a lot more channels and basically more presence in Europe. Nat Geo is one way we do that. We also ended up with really interesting business in Asia and South East Asia and particularly India with Star and Hotstar. To give you an example, for every four hours of video watched in India today, Hotstar gets one hour of that,” Iger averred.

Underlining the strength of the Hotstar platform, Iger noted that the Indian Premier League (IPL) finale on Hotstar creating a new record with 18.6 million concurrent viewers.

“They had a cricket match past weekend, they had 18.6 million viewers watching that match at one time, which I am told is a record. So we have a presence in television and direct to consumer business in India which will soon be the most populous country in the world that we never had before,” Iger stated.

Iger also said that the Disney+ service, which will launch in the U.S. market on 12th November at $6.99 a month. Following its US debut, Disney+ will rapidly expand globally, with plans to be in nearly all major regions of the world within the next two years.

“The Disney+ service in India would be managed by the Star and Hotstar team. They already have the technology, they already have a relationship with consumers and they know the market extremely well,” Iger said.

Apart from the direct to consumer business, Iger is also bullish about the traditional TV and motion pictures businesses. He also sees a lot of potential for the Marvel franchise in the market.

“Bollywood is number 1 industry in India in the years to come we see more growth there. Marvel is an interesting opportunity for us in India and South East Asia. We have got an interesting initiative there for Marvel. The television growth and motion pictures would be the obvious one to direct consumer business in India,”

Iger also stated that buying out Comcast stake in Hulu will give Disney full operational control. This will allow it to run the service the way it wants. Hulu, he said, will also be rolled out internationally. However, the first priority is to build Disney+ and ESPN+ services.

“We plan to roll-out Hulu internationally in different markets. We said on the investor day we will walk before we run. There is a lot on our plate to grow Disney+ and EPSN+. Both Disney+ and Hulu will have a large presence globally over time,” Iger stated.

Iger also revealed that the BAMTech platform, which is used for ESPN+ and Disney+, will eventually be used as the backend for Hulu.

Talking about the benefits of getting operational control in Hulu, Iger stated that the deal will open the door for seamless integration of services. Another advantage is that the company can bundle services to make them attractive to consumers. It can also use the same tech platform (BAMTech) everywhere besides leveraging the content engines that the company has.

He also said that Disney+ service will also look at local content for specific regional markets. In the same breath, he noted that the content owned by Disney has a global appeal.

“If we are bringing Disney+ to the world we obviously have to bring local content in a number of markets and number of regions. We have to be locally relevant too. Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic franchises have a global. We will have more content that will travel globally,” he stated.

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