Yesterday Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, was a guest on the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference stream (now you know why they seem to always get to be the ones who get to ask questions during the Disney investor calls.) During the stream Chapek discussed a lot of things going on with the Walt Disney Company–starting with how they approached the Pandemic.
Disney’s Three Priorities
According to Chapek, when it became clear that Disney was facing a big challenge with the Pandemic the company broke down three “priorities” they needed to focus on to weather the storm.
Leading up to the “unprecedented” event, Disney was having record breaking profits, while also spending possible record breaking amounts on acquisitions, share dividends, park expansions and more. They weren’t exactly the ant in the “Grasshopper and the Ant” story. But they were able to stave off the worst of it by focusing on the following priorities:
Stabilize the Company
Chapek credits CFO Christine McCarthy for doing so. That’s probably why she got a new contract with multi-million dollar bonuses.
“Christine McCarthy did a tremendous job of ensuring we had the liquidity necessary for the long haul, if it ended up being a long haul, and certainly she had the foresight to recognize that yes it was going to be a long haul.”
2. The Pivot to Direct to Consumer
Mr. Chapek indicates that they had to decide if they were going to push further into the streaming market or if they were going to pull back due to the pandemic and the situation the company was in. They decided to go all in on their “Direct to Consumer” initiative and “stepped on the throttle pretty heavily and accelerated figuring this was the time to really make a giant leap forward…. We did that in two ways.
- We increased our investment dramatically in content.
- We reorganized the company to facilitate really a complete alignment of all of our interests towards our strategic imperative of Direct to Consumer.”
3. The Parks
This is basically where Disney decided to use the opportunity to make all kinds of changes as guests weren’t in the parks.
Here’s what Chapek said:
“We wanted to make sure that we wanted to take this opportunity, obviously, I mean nobody wants the parks closed for up to a year, but at the same time, we realized that was a unique opportunity maybe to advance some things that would have been difficult if not impossible for us to go change in an operating environment. And so, we’ve made some moves already, but we’re going to make further moves and they are designed to improve the guest experience while at the same time, yielding those moves for the benefit of our shareholders, and at the same time maintaining the expansion, because we’ve got this wealth of Intellectual Property, so we took the highest priority projects and kept going on them even though obviously capital was a consideration at the time.”
I’ll translate for you. Disney is using the parks being down so they can find ways to control guests more, cost guests more, all while saying it’s to “enhance the guest experience.” In the end it’s ultimately to “benefit the shareholders.” I still say the new “membership programs” that will come from the AP program removal will cost the same or more but give guests far less. They’re already overpriced in the market.
They are focused on Intellectual Property (IP) and they want to finish up the attractions that are near completion first and of course the Starcruiser ‘Star Wars’ hotel because they are going to charge thousands of dollars for a couple of nights.
I wonder if they realize that the general public can see his comments and not just the share holders he’s pandering to? If you would like to watch, you can do so HERE.
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