February 28, 2024

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Disney CEO is betting on the future of Taylor Swift and Fortnite

Disney CEO is betting on the future of Taylor Swift and Fortnite

  • Written by Mariko Aoi
  • Business reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced a series of moves that he hopes will bring “significant growth” to the entertainment giant.

Plans include streaming an exclusive version of the concert film of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour on Disney+.

The company will also invest $1.5bn (£1.2bn) in Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game Fortnite.

Disney has come under pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, who has called for business change.

The American billionaire wants Disney to boost its profits from its streaming business as well as improve the box office performance of its films. Last year, a number of Disney films, including those in the Marvel franchise, failed to ignite the global box office.

In its results for the three months to December 31, Disney said its streaming service lost 1.3 million subscribers after a price increase in October.

However, Disney still expects its streaming business to reach profitability by September of this year.

The deal with Epic means players will be able to interact with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and Avatar characters.

“This represents Disney’s largest-ever entry into the world of gaming and presents significant opportunities for growth and expansion,” Iger said.

Together, the three US media giants own a wide range of sports rights including the FIFA World Cup, Formula 1, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

Asked whether the ads would be enough to satisfy Peltz, who wants a seat on Disney's board, Iger told CNBC: “The last thing we need right now is to have our time and energy distracted by an activist.” “Or activists who, frankly, have a completely different agenda, and don't understand our company, its origins, and even the essence of the Disney brand.”

But a spokesman for Peltz's firm, Trian Fund Management, said: “It's happened again. We watched this movie last year and didn't like the ending.”

Disney shares rose more than 6% in extended trading in New York after these announcements.

It was reinstated after the company's stock price fell and Disney+ continued to make a loss.

Separately, Disney is facing a lawsuit from actress Gina Carano, who was fired in 2021 over a social media post in which she compared being a Republican to being Jewish during the Holocaust.

The lawsuit is being funded by Elon Musk, who put out an open invitation on his platform X, formerly known as Twitter, for others to join the lawsuit.