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Disney to charge for content online
Eyes subscription model for movies, TV shows, games

July 22, 2009
By Paul Bond

Disney plans to offer a broad array of its content, including movies, TV shows and games, online to those willing to pay for it -- possibly at a single Web site that requires a subscription, president and CEO Robert Iger said Wednesday.

"The notion of going online at some point as a subscribe-to, robust entertainment experience is pretty attractive to us," Iger said. "We are developing such an experience."

The top Mouseketeer made the remarks Wednesday at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm: Tech conference. Pressed for details by Fortune editor-at-large Richard Siklos, Iger declined.

Disney already is bringing in revenue online. It has joined NBC Universal and News Corp. as a content provider and equity partner in Hulu, which sells advertising. Disney also sells content on iTunes and charges a subscription fee for its Club Penguin site.

But Iger said much more money can be extracted from Web surfers seeking quality content. He noted that consumers spend $5 an hour at theaters to see movies, 75 cents an hour to read books, newspapers and magazines and 50 cents an hour to watch cable and satellite TV, but only 25 cents an hour to surf the Internet.

"There's plenty of room for people to spend more money on things that they're doing online," Iger said.

Siklos noted that Iger is a pioneer in user-generated content, having put "America's Funniest Home Videos" on ABC 20 years ago. Iger said he kicks himself for not taking that concept online.

"Unfortunately, I didn't come up with YouTube," Iger said, noting that while that site might not be profitable, its creators sold it to Google for "a chunk of change."

The Disney chief also said he is bullish on behavioral tracking, claiming that privacy concerns are overblown and usually shared only by older consumers. He joked that he has learned more about his two adult daughters from their Facebook pages than from raising them.

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