There’s money to be made on the Internet, according to Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger. And his company is making strides to find out where. Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference, Iger outlined a plan to protect the present while at the same time planning for the future.
Exhibit 1: this past spring, Iger’s company joined News Corp’s Fox and GE’s NBC (along with Providence Equity Partners) in taking an equity stake in Hulu.com, the second-most watched video site on the Web. Iger called it promising, and said that it was just one in a number of new strategies that will emerge to make money off the Web.
In addition to advertising, Iger says Hulu will experiment with other revenue streams. Consumers, he believes, are willing to pay for strong content.
“We have ample evidence both in traditional and new media, that people are willing to pay for quality,” Iger said, adding that they’re also willing to pay for choice, navigation and what they perceive as good value.
Iger noted that there’s headroom to charge for online content, pointing to data that shows that people will pay about $5 an hour to watch a movie while they’re currently only spending about 25 cents an hour online.
Revenues from the Internet continue to be a trickle compared to more traditional forms of media, but that’s changing. The real promise, according to Iger, is in technology. He’s excited about the prospects of advanced behavioral targeting, which is just beginning to evolve.
Iger notes that privacy is an issue that still needs to be resolved. He said about his daughters, 30 and 27, “I’ve learned more about my daughters on their Facebook pages than I did while I was raising them.”
But change on the Web moves fast and Iger plans to keep Disney on top of it.