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Arts & Entertainment

Managing Industry Disruption: Disney Plus Case Study

Bob Iger

Lesson time 8:52 min

One of Bob’s superpowers is his ability to predict where the industry is headed. He talks about how Disney navigated the change to streaming video on demand, starting with ESPN+ and leading to Disney+.

Bob Iger
Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the leadership skills and strategies he used to reimagine one of the world’s most beloved brands.


- It worked perfectly. - How many times do I have to teach you, just because something works doesn't mean that it cannot be improved. - You are teaching me? What do you know? [MUSIC PLAYING] - It's incredibly important for anyone in a business to have a foot in the present and have a foot in the future. What I mean by that is it's important to be focused on day-to-day operations, day-to-day business circumstances and conditions-- all of the elements that, I think, are important to consider in terms of how to be successful at a given moment. Just as important-- to look as far ahead as possible. Often, a daunting task, particularly since things are changing so rapidly, but it's important to look ahead and have some sense for where your business might be going, what the business conditions are, or what business conditions might develop years into the future, so that decisions that you're making today are enabling you to continue to run your business successfully, you know, long into the future, even though those conditions have changed. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think the best way to embrace disruption is to admit that it's happening. It's not just a speed bump. It's just not something that's happening momentarily that you can ultimately endure and then see yourself to the other side. It's something, I think, you have to understand that it's here to stay. There's an inevitability to change, and I think today's world, there are plenty of examples of just how much change has occurred in the very recent past. And so therefore, we ought to expect that there's far more change on the horizon. Accepting that, I think, is the best way to navigate your way through it or with it. Disruption led by technological advance has had a profound impact on the entire media and entertainment business-- what's being created, how it's being created, how it's being distributed, how it's being consumed, and how it's being monetized. The business model that forms the underpinning of media and entertainment has all changed dramatically. [MUSIC PLAYING] ESPN, over the years since ABC and ESPN were acquired by Disney in the mid '90s, has been one of the most profitable businesses for the company. It actually, today, remains one of our most profitable businesses. But the growth trajectory of ESPN was substantially changed due to technological disruption. Basically, the means by which people are consuming and buying television channels is starting to change. And so what we started to see with ESPN is not only people accessing sports in different ways, but people being more hesitant to buy multi-channel television and ESPN because they had other means of being entertained. And that had a profound effect on ESPN's business. In order to contend with it, we decided that, rather than just accept the disruption and watch ESPN's business diminish, that we would embrace the disruption and take the necessary steps to make sure that ESPN continu...

About the Instructor

In an era of disruption, former Disney CEO Bob Iger led one of the world’s most beloved brands to unprecedented success with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now, through case studies and lessons from 45 years in media, Bob teaches you how to evolve your business and career. Learn strategies for expanding a brand, leading with integrity, and making big moves—from risk management to the art of negotiation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great to hear real life experiences from Bob Iger and his learnings. Amazing!

Great inspirational stories and leadership lessons from a senior executive of a cutting-edge company.

Love this guy and the way he shares the stories are amazing. True visionary.

Even though I did listen to Iger's audio book, I did enjoy watching him speak and seeing how he conducts himself as well.


Jean S.

These thoughts on business in linear time are gold. Here are the thoughts that seem to occupy the minds of big leaders. The ability to tackle these kinds of questions, to challenge the imagination in this way is not common!

Ignatius D.

I think Disney did a great job making fantasy a reality. That's what the world needs more than ever, and not the bending to social pandering and distractions throughout the current world today. An 'industry disruption' would be to do what Disney is great at and to bring it ever bigger than ever. Create a place where people can escape the political landscape, their jobs, life distractions, etc., and bring a world that Walt Disney himself was known for into the 21st Century.

T B.

Great all around; I like the mix of examples and big decisions tied to values and management philosophy

Kevin H.

Bob's ability to stay calm and subjugate hurdles is why he has become arguably the most important leader at Disney next to Walt himself. The Disney brand is such a powerful force that most leaders would be frightened out of their minds to propose half the stuff Bob has brought to their board for consideration. His calmness and thorough approach to risk assessment is on another level....perhaps two levels. Very inspiring!

A fellow student

I agree that market platforms will be an essential model in the future which will be hinged on real-time and machine learning models to prescriptive suggestions.

Val M.

I would be concerned that the aspirational stories that Disney has been so wonderful about supporting, not get truncated to respond to cultures that are not as...forward thinking, perhaps? I would be concerned that Disney continue to be a benevolent source of storytelling that supports groups who are more underrepresented, or frankly, very discriminated against, particularly in other cultures. How that would be addressed going forward, would be a primary concern from my perspective.


Bob (if you read these) - your comments about reluctance to buy multi-channel cable packages resonated with me, and I would like to point out that it also applies to buying streaming services. When there is one awesome series I would like to view, I am willing to purchase access to it - but I am not interested in an ongoing subscription to a streaming service. In a funny twist, I think I'd pay more to access a specific show if I could avoid a subscription. Getting a season of "The Mandalorian" seems reasonable for $25 and yet I know that would get me almost 3 months of Disney+. Weird, but there's a market there that's being ignored by the push for subscriptions.

Marcus M.

I remember reaching out to the founder of BAMTech (now the person who oversees Disney+) the day after Disney+ launched. I was surprised to get a response from him and to start developing a really great relationship with his team. Disney+ is the inevitability that Netflix opened the door for. Blockbuster should have seen this coming and made a deal with Netflix many years ago. Now we have Apple TV+, BET+, Peacock and many others (Nickelodeon?) on the way. Unfortunately, all of them will not survive (I believe Apple, Disney, and Amazon will survive though, LOL). It will be interesting to see how all of these platforms shape up over the next decade and to revisit this in 10 (or even 5, or even 3) years...

Andrew L.

Lessons learned that disruptions require professionals keep current with technology, markets and wanted experiences. I am looking at that personal experience that appears to match the trends currently. Thank you!

A fellow student

There's a mistake in Iger's comment about the Mandolorian. He calls it the first "Star Wars Live Action film." There are 9 Star Wars live action films. He meant to say "First Star Wars Live Action Series" or TV series.