Disney is widely believed to be in the final stages of extricating itself from Fusion, a partnership with Univision that’s part cable network and part online news source. It started as a way to reach young, English-speaking Hispanics.
“That did not work,” said Porter Bibb, managing partner at Media Tech Capital Partners . “They went through several permutations, rejigging content, and ended up just going after millennials in general.
That didn’t work either.
“The network is popularly known as confusion because it really confused the viewers,” said Bibb.
Marketing a cable channel to a generation that doesn’t really watch cable is a hard play to make. Disney thinks it’ll have better luck partnering with VICE news, where it’s already invested $400 million.
“It’s so, so crowded out there to reach an audience that is already cutting the cord, and it’s hit a variety of different companies hard,” said Dade Hayes, editor of Broadcasting and Cable magazine.
Other parts of Disney have suffered from the same phenomenon. As fewer people watch cable, Disney’s crown jewel, ESPN, is losing millions of viewers. The network doesn’t have individual subscribers; it’s embedded in a bundle of cable channels that subscribers receive access to.
At the same time, ESPN has paid through the nose for sports licensing fees. Investors have been punishing Disney stock for a month. William Smead, CEO of Smead Capital Management, argues they’re overreacting.
“From a historical standpoint, fears like this are wiggles,” he said.
He argues the issue here isn’t Disney’s content, it’s how to get that content to viewers who probably do want it.
“Great content survives all the distribution systems. The distribution systems are the risk,” said Smead.
Oh, also, “Star Wars.” The movie that brought in 690 million in a week? Yeah, Disney made that.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.