Disney CFO: 'Nothing has changed about our M&A strategy'

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy. Image: Disney

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy seemingly threw some cold water on speculation that Disney would pursue an acquisition of Netflix or Twitter.

Speaking at the Citi Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference, McCarthy called Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm the “tentpoles” of Disney’s M&A strategy in response to a question about whether investors could expect a “transformative” acquisition from Disney in 2017.

“Nothing has changed about our M&A strategy,” McCarthy said.

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When asked if Disney’s recent investment in BAMTech was suggestive of an overarching theme at Disney in focusing on digital platforms, McCarthy suggested that Disney has been pursuing that strategy for some time. She said that Disney was one of the first companies to put its TV content on iTunes, that ESPN was one of the first to offer livestreams within an app, and that the BAMTech investment is consistent with that approach.

RELATED: Disney confirms $1B investment into BAMTech, streaming a la carte ESPN

In terms of the direct-to-consumer ESPN product promised when Disney originally announced the BAMTech investment, McCarthy didn’t offer too many new details. She did promise that a direct-to-consumer ESPN service would launch in 2017 and that it would feature sports and sporting events that are not on ESPN’s linear networks.

While Disney may have abandoned buying Twitter because of the social media platform’s general community behavior not aligning with Disney’s family-friendly image, it seems that Netflix is out of play because the SVOD just doesn’t want to be bought.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference last month, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos said the company’s strategy has been solely focused on building its SVOD service. He worried that Netflix being absorbed by a huge media conglomerate might overshadow or derail that strategy.

“I do think that there are some multi-company conflicts that emerge in those big companies that would make it difficult to stay as disciplined as we’ve done,” Sarandos said.


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