Former Disney boss Michael Eisner says there is a big battle ahead in the world of television broadcasts. And it is one that challenges the dominance of global TV streaming giant Netflix from all sides.
Eisner says that a series of gigantic companies, which once could have bought the streaming service "for nothing" in the beginning, are now pumping billions to take the number one spot by force.
This year's battle for giants has turned film studios, technology companies, and even telecom companies into a rivalry that most British companies look like minnows.
Rich: Former Disney boss, Michel Eisner, is estimated at £ 1 billion
Disney + is launched in November and will undermine Netflix – a company with which Eisner also has ties – by almost half.
It will contain no fewer than 8,000 films and television episodes, classics on a large screen to new series based on the wildly popular Star Wars and Marvel franchises.
& # 39; If anyone can beat Netflix, Disney can, & # 39; says Eisner, boss from 1984 to 2005 and who still exudes Hollywood appeal.
Hostilities are already escalating and the amount at stake is eye-catching.
The studio gets its own content from Netflix and costs $ 150 million (£ 120 million) in operating income from lost licensing fees in 2019 alone. Disney + will soon be the only way to stream Disney movies.
"They spend a lot of money to keep their products from other streaming services," he says.
Eisner, who himself is worth an estimated $ 1 billion, says the "big gamble" and pain can pay off in the short term. "I think they can do it. You've only really known for five years (but) they have the best chance of doing it.
It's coming: Eisner says there's a big fight coming in the world of television broadcasts
"The only question in my mind is whether they will get enough subscribers worldwide to pay for it?"
Disney expects to be able to sign up to 90 million subscribers by the end of the 2024 financial year. According to a recent Mindnet Analytics report, users of 8.7 million Netflix are already considering the switch – still a drop in the ocean for Netflix, which has 152 million subscribers worldwide.
But Disney is not the only competitor on its horizon. Apple and NBCUniversal launch services.
Meanwhile, telecom giant AT&T bought Time Warner for $ 85 billion last year and is reportedly already in talks with Star Wars director J.J. Abrams about its own exclusive content.
Back in Britain, ITV and the BBC also say that their BritBox streaming service will be launched this year with a line-up of classic British box sets.
Eisner admits that investors on Wall Street & # 39; be patient & # 39; after studios & # 39; s made the mistake of blinding Netflix.
"Several companies had the opportunity to buy Netflix early for free. Everyone agreed to sell their library, which was probably a mistake for them, but they made a lot of money and it kept many companies afloat. & # 39;
Founded in California in 1997, Netflix began renting DVDs, then streaming, and finally the turning point, when it started streaming its own original content, such as the political drama House Of Cards.
Although he is still a major shareholder in Disney, Eisner also successfully produces Netflix animated adult comedy drama BoJack Horseman. It has helped push Netflix to a value of $ 140 billion compared to Disney's $ 260 million.
UK offer: Back in Great Britain, ITV and the BBC also say their BritBox streaming service will be launched this year with a line-up of classic British box sets
Few bosses fit the description of CEO of a celebrity better than Eisner.
During a period of 21 years as the boss of Disney, he became almost as famous as Walt himself after running the company at such a crucial moment, as well as appearances on television and friendships with superstars such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
We meet the mogul in Beverly Hills, a stone's throw from the chic shops of Rodeo Drive and the Wilshire Hotel, made famous by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the Pretty Woman of 1990.
The area is home to Eisner & # 39; s investment firm Tornante, which means "hairpin bend" in Italian. He saw the word on signs during a bike ride through Italy and realized that it suited his new direction.
Media is now only part of the Eisner empire. Tornante has interests in everything from Portsmouth Football Club to online charity platform Omaze.
Everyone agreed to sell their library to Netflix – which was probably a mistake
Eisner joined Disney in 1984 after an eight-year stint as chief executive of Paramount, where he launched groundbreaking films, including Saturday Night Fever, Beverly Hills Cop and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones film.
When he took over what is affectionately called the House of the mouse, it was in a mess. Attempts to make more modern films had led to forgettable live action films such as sci-fi flop The Black Hole and Condorman, starring Michael Crawford.
"Disney movies were made, but not by Disney. Lucas, Spielberg and we at Paramount made Disney-like films such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark & # 39 ;, says the cleverly fitting 77-year-old through a radiant grin.
Eisner brought Disney back to his roots of hand-drawn animations and delivered beloved favorites such as Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King.
He then ordered theme park rides based on them and merchandise, so the films served as a promotion for the Disney resorts.
Eisner benefited from this enchanting virtuous cycle by building two new parks in Florida and others in California, Paris and Hong Kong, making Disney & # 39; the world's most visited theme park operator with an estimated 157.3 million guests last year.
The legacy of Eisner still enchants the company through advanced live remakes of the classic cartoons he has commissioned.
Beauty And The Beast was the second highest film of 2017 and Aladdin topped the charts in April. The Lion King became Disney & # 39; s fastest selling live remake so far when it earned $ 531 million in the first ten days.
But he perseveres and big money is not everything in films and television.
& # 39; There is a limit to how high you can raise prizes and second, just when you think this is going to happen, someone who lives in Blackpool for example and is 15 years old will come up with some great new series on some BBC streaming service and suddenly the world goes there.
"There will come a time when nobody wants to see a Marvel movie again and I am sure Disney knows that."
Eisner seems equally passionate about his investment in Portsmouth – a football club he found after scouring Britain for & # 39; a very famous team that had fallen in difficult times & # 39; that he could rebuild. He flows over the team in tweets and drinks coffee from a Portsmouth FC mug.
But he says his approach is the same whether it is for football or film. "It is a strategy of excellence. The strategy of whatever you do is doing really well. & # 39;
Eisner's ten-year plan to get Pompey back on track
Eisner knows that it takes more than the wave of a magic wand, but his plan for Portsmouth Football Club is not one of Mickey Mouse.
Known as Pompey, the club spent seven consecutive seasons in the Premier League from 2003 – now he wants to step up a return.
"My son told me that we had to find a very famous team that had fallen during difficult times and had to rebuild it," says the former Disney boss.
After exploring the US, Europe and other English clubs, they arrived in Portsmouth. Heritage is clearly fundamental – one that could resonate globally. The first illuminated Football League match in England was in Portsmouth.
& # 39; The Queen christened the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in Portsmouth. It is the second most bombed city in the Second World War after London. It has been a naval center since Richard Leeuwenhart. It's a very important city, & said Eisner.
The club's fall from grace was quick. It was downgraded three times and forced into the administration twice due to debts.
It was taken over by the Pompey Supporters Trust in 2012, who sold it to Eisner five years later when the club was promoted to League One.
In March, a crowd of 85,000 Portsmouth saw the EFL Trophy win in Wembley. In his first major interview since buying the club, Eisner says, "I think you could say we have a ten-year plan that would end up in the Premier League.
"I know that buying your way doesn't work. That has never been my strategy in business. I have never heard of a company where the goal was to lose money.
"The British football reality is not a reality that I accept. The strategy is development. It's all about talent. We want to implement it in such a way that they do not get into the situation in which they were previously.
& # 39; We have a lot of testosterone in the field, but in the boardroom we have to control ourselves. It's about being sensitive to the fans, but not responding to individual loss.
"At Disney, we led the Anaheim Angels baseball team that was in trouble and we eventually won the World Series.
"If we do well, Portsmouth will hopefully be a globally valued team over the next decade."
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