Will Apple buy Disney? I don’t know about you, but my first reaction was, “No.” But then I checked out a variety of magazines and news outlets and found that a lot of them are talking about it. Here are just three headlines:
A Disney Sale to Apple? Don’t Count It Out this Time. Hollywood Reporter, August 9, 2023, Kim Masters, Alex Weprin
Is Apple Gearing Up to Buy Disney? Why Rumors Surrounding the 2 Companies Are Starting to Swirl. – Microsoft Start, David Satin, August 12, 2023
The long-simmering rumor of Apple buying Disney is resurfacing as Bob Iger looks to sell assets. – MarketWatch, Jon Swartz, August 10, 2023
If these were more normal times, I would write the notion off as fantasy. These are not, as we can all attest, normal times.
How could it happen? Here is how Marketwatch speculates:
The prospect of an Apple-Disney combo seems far-fetched in a heated regulatory climate, where the Federal Trade Commission is attempting to crack down on Big Tech acquisitions, but it could happen should Disney sell off assets and Apple gobbles up Disney’s direct-to-consumer business that includes streaming service Disney+, some media analysts speculate. Apple could conceivably even buy ABC, which reportedly is on the block. But the path is long and circuitous.
The speculation pivots around Bob Iger’s intention to sell parts of Disney. Iger has publicly stated that ABC and FX may not be core parts of Disney’s business.
And you can see why Iger wants to get creative. If you follow Walt Disney stock, you will see that on August 22, 2022, the stock was priced at $112.43 a share. The share price is currently down to $87.49.
On top of that, it has lost 11.7 million streaming customers. Streaming was supposed to be a big part of Disney’s future.
And let’s not forget Disney movies, whose characters are the lifeblood of the toy industry’s licensed toys. They have been a bust. Elemental, Haunted Mansion, and Strange World have had a very poor box office. Here is how Variety writers Rebecca Rubin and Brent Lang put it in their article, “Disney’s Harsh New Reality: Costly Film Flops, Creative Struggles, and a Shrinking Global Box.”
This year, the long-reigning titan of the box office has shown cracks as four of its biggest releases … have struggled in theaters. There was the dispiriting release of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” a rare Marvel movie to likely lose tens of millions in its theatrical run; “The Little Mermaid,” … that fell drastically short of expectations; “Elemental,” an original story that tried and failed to recapture Pixar’s magic; and most recently “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a nearly $300 million investment in one of cinemas’ most venerable franchises, which no longer appears to have the same hold on today’s audiences.
So, Will Apple buy Disney? Its a long shot. What is not a long shot, is Iger doing something dramatic to turn the company around. He has to.