Andy Bird, the chairman of Walt Disney International, weighed in on consumer-facing brands, local content creation and more in his session at APOS in Bali.
Bird was interviewed by Media Partners Asia’s Vivek Couto, who began the conversation by asking about Disney’s digital strategy. “We very much see ourselves in the digital space replicating what we have achieved successfully in the analog space going back decades, and that’s creating an ecosystem of consumer touch points and experiences grounded in IP.”
With the direct-to-consumer SVOD platform DisneyLife, scaling to compete with the Netflixs of the world is not a priority, Bird said. “We’ve been on a journey of learning and understanding and exploration. It’s now growing very successfully. We have the option to continue to roll that out as a direct-to-consumer play. My colleagues know that I forbid the use of the word channels. The channels of the future become playlists that are curated and personalized. DisneyLife is the first step of that journey. It’s an app that can live direct to consumer but it can also live on platforms and telcos.”
On Disney’s business in Southeast Asia, Bird said that what’s exciting is “a lack of legacy,” and the affinity for the Disney and Marvel brands. He added that the expanding role of telcos is going to be a key opportunity for companies like Disney. “What excites me other than the scale of the population and the metrics that are often quoted is the ability to change fast.”
He added that Disney is involved in the local content creation business in the region, including creating shows that have premiered on Facebook with a later window on traditional TV.
Bird went on to note that he’s “never been more excited about India,” following “a decade of somewhat frustration in the growth of the industry.”
Disney acquired UTV in India a few years ago to accelerate its “ability to tell stories in that market. It was widely publicized that we decided to pull out of making movies for the local market. That was misinterpreted that we were getting out of making local content. It’s far from it.” Disney has a development slate of more than 12 projects in India. “India is a really interesting opportunity for us.”
For the region as a whole, Bird said, “In a couple of years time, you’re going to see a very digitally focused, mobile-first Walt Disney Company in this region. And with a multifaceted presence. I hope in a couple of years time we are well down this route of creating a connected ecosystem.”