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Disney VP: “Don’t Give Up”

Disney Internet Group Executive VP Dick Glover told the audience to be optimistic about the future of digital media, despite the bad market conditions. "If you believe in your idea, don’t give up on your vision," he said. "Don’t bail out at the first signs of trouble."

He called the failure of some companies "healthy Darwinism" saying we shouldn’t shed tears for those failed companies." He also expressed his belief in technology showcasing how Disney is using its offline and online resources to build a compelling consumer experience. Glover said Disney had a 150 percent growth in traffic this year, as well as a 200 percent growth in revenues. Disney owns ABC, ESPN and many other properties, many of which are aggressively pursuing streaming.

Drawing comparisons to his days working for cable company Group W, Glover outlined how many cable companies failed early on. "I’ve already lived the story," he said. When Group W launched its Satellite News Channel in the early days of cable, it directly competed with Ted Turner’s CNN.

But Glover said that SNC never had the backing of advertisers, which is what ultimately forced them to close down after spending $40 million. "With no advertising support, Westinghouse gave up," he said. If Group W had stayed the course, he said, it would have owned CNN, ESPN, Fox Sports, TNN and been partners with Disney.

Glover advised everyone to hold on to good business ideas and not to confuse failing companies for failed technology. "The industry doesn’t fail, companies do," he said.

Glover said that Disney offers three legs that help the company succeed: multiple revenue streams, a strong brand and offline marketing. Using these three approaches, he said, the company creates a cycle from its offline and online properties. He cited Disney’s Blast subscription Web site where kids can go and play games online. He also previewed an upcoming multiplayer game called ToonTown Online, which will be part of Blast. Another preview was ESPN.com’s MySportsCenter, which allows visitors to see player-specific highlights of the previous night’s games.

Interestingly, Glover also talked about the importance of digital rights management (DRM) systems, possibly referring to RealNetworks’ just unveiled DRM solution. "Disney firmly believes in protecting intellectual property rights," he said drawing laughter from the crowd. Glover said that the industry must shift from piracy to legitimacy, and said that DRM technologies are key. "We need one digital rights management system to be supported by all devices," he said.

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