When 21st Century Fox and Disney each bring shareholders together in New York on Friday to vote on whether the companies should merge, the two people who struck the $71.3 billion deal — Rupert Murdoch and Robert A. Iger — will not be in attendance. But it’s no big deal. Although required by law, the vote is perfunctory at this point.
Can anyone with even the most nominal understanding of these businesses argue that having one company own the ESPN channel group along with the Fox regional sports channels would be good for consumers and competition?
The $50 billion deal, which could be announced this week, would mark a significant turning point in the empire-building career of Fox’s founder and executive chairman, 86-year-old Rupert Murdoch. It would also be a defining moment for Disney and its CEO Robert Iger. It’s just the kind of consolidation media investors have said was long overdue.
Robert Iger, the 66-year-old chief executive of entertainment giant Walt Disney Co., is starting to find his voice on matters having nothing to do with PG-rated blockbusters or amusement park rides. And he is emerging as a credible contender in the 2020 presidential speculation game.
America must face its problem with gun violence, the Disney CEO said Tuesday, citing the long list of mass shootings in the United States. Those shootings prompted little in the way of legislation. “These are incidents that touch everybody,” Iger said. “Where is the outrage here? This is a huge crisis for our country. We should demand a dialogue about this from our politicians.”
No, the cable bundle isn’t dead. It’s more like an aging dictator who’s starting to show signs of weakness. Those around it, meanwhile, are already agitating for change. In the last few months in particular, there has been growing evidence of this revolution. After tiptoeing around the demise of the bundle for years, Disney CEO Bob Iger is finally taking bigger steps to ensure his company’s viability, with or without the traditional cable bundle.
Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company has bought a $1 billion stake in Major League Baseball’s streaming platform and will use it to launch a new ESPN-branded channel that will not siphon off signature programs or major sports from the cable-based ESPN services. “We view this as a complementary service.”
Disney shares slipped Tuesday as investors coped with newfound uncertainty about the entertainment giant’s leadership, after the unexpected resignation on Monday of the company’s No. 2 executive and heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger. Shares were down 2.3% at $96.40 midday Tuesday, the first trading day after Disney said Thomas Staggs would depart next month after 14 months as COO and likely successor to Iger, whose contract runs through June 2018.
Disney reported Wednesday in an SEC filing that its Chairman-CEO Bob Iger made $44.9 million in total compensation during the company’s fiscal 2015. That’s down from 2014, when he collected $46.5M, but don’t feel too bad for him: last year’s total marked a 35.5% rise from the year before.