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The Best Protection Against Disruption Is a Great Story, Says Disney’s CEO

July 12, 2016, 2:21 AM UTC

Whether it’s the unbundling of cable networks and the pressure that puts on providers like ESPN, or the disruption of the movie industry thanks to virtual reality technologies like Magic Leap, the best weapon a company can have is a great story, Disney CEO Bob Iger said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. on Monday.

Iger told Fortune‘s Michal Lev-Ram that while cord-cutting and the rise of streaming services like Netflix are causing upheaval in the traditional broadcasting business, he has faith in ESPN’s core value and its ability to find an audience—regardless of what kind of technology or distribution system it uses.

“I think we’re going through a transition that involves the distribution side of that business,” Iger said. “But when you think about it, you really can’t tell a better story than the NBA finals… where it goes all the way to Game 7, and it goes right down to the last shot. That’s a great story.”

Iger said that when Disney (DIS) thinks long-term about some of the technological disruption going on around it “we ask, do we have products that people will want regardless of what the delivery mechanism is? And when you think about Disney and you think about ESPN and Pixar and Marvel and Star Wars, I think we have that.”



The Disney CEO also talked about some of the work the company has been doing with Magic Leap, the highly-valued startup that some believe has a compelling “augmented reality” technology that allows virtual characters and images to appear seamlessly alongside the real world. Although some believe AR might compete with movies and theme parks, Iger said he is excited about what such technology might allow.

“I stood in a room and they had Tinkerbell flying around and right up to me, looking untethered and extremely real,” the Disney CEO said. “So I’m excited about what technology can allow us to do with that kind of storytelling.”

Iger said that at its core, the company is “essentially a storytelling company that has embraced technology from the beginning to tell stories better, to more people and in more ways,” and that isn’t going to change regardless of what new technology becomes available. “We really see ourselves as a technology company,” Iger said. “It’s part of our culture.”