Bob Iger really should have run for president, as he once considered doing. His political instinct is unmatched, at least among CEOs. On Wednesday, in his first quarterly earnings call since returning to the top job at Disney, Iger offered something for everyone. A return of the dividend! Layoffs! Creative executives get their power back! Traditional TV is still important, Iger reminded everyone, but streaming is the future! He didn’t say anything about cutting taxes, but you get the picture. If this was an election—which, given activist investor Nelson Peltz’s proxy challenge, it is, kind of—you wouldn’t bet against Iger.
There’s more doubt, though, about whether Iger can succeed in his core challenge—making streaming profitable enough to offset what Disney (like other TV companies) is losing from the decline of old-fashioned TV. The good news is that Iger, unlike some of his counterparts, made it clear in his comments that he understands how streaming empowers consumers, ensuring that we’re not returning to the glory days of traditional TV. That means he stands a better chance of long-term success than, say, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, whose clear preference for traditional TV suggests he still thinks we’re living in the ’90s. (For more details on Disney’s earnings, see here.)