Disney boss Bob Iger details ‘pretty dramatic’ spending cuts for linear shows

Abbot Elementary

Disney boss Bob Iger has outlined how he views the future of its linear channels, admitting that he would “reduce pretty dramatically” investment in content.

Iger, who replaced Bob Chapek as Disney CEO in 2022, said in July that the company’s linear networks such as ABC and FX “may not be core” to the Mouse House, before rowing back on the comments later in the year.

Bob Iger

The Mouse House boss later said his comments had been misinterpreted and expanded on his reasoning during a MoffettNathanson Media, Internet & Comms Conference this week.

Iger said that following his return to the business, he looked “extensively” at traditional media and concluded linear networks would not be a growth business but “could become an important component to our ability to basically engage with the consumer”.

He continued that the strategy involves cutting programme spend on shows “specifically aimed at those traditional networks”, with content instead destined for both.

He pointed to shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Abbot Elementary, which air on ABC but move onto Disney’s Hulu “pretty quickly”.

“What we’re getting is an unduplicated audience. We’re aggregating greater audience and amortising costs,” he added.

The strategy applies across networks from Disney Channel to Nat Geo, and “is working”, he added. And while “erosion” is occurring, “we’re going to continue to drive profitability because we’re managing our costs so effectively.”

Disney restructured its exec team to oversee the strategy last year with Dana Walden, co-chair of Disney Entertainment, leading linear and streaming, alongside Jimmy Pitaro for ESPN and sports.

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