Distributing the Mouse: Disney in 2001

By Robert Burgelman, Philip Meza
2001 | Case No. SM29C
Disney has long been an industry leader in content creation. The company has a successful history of creating both animated and live action films and television programming as well as multi-purposing its content for alternative forms of consumption. Through 2001, Disney has taken the position that compelling content will find distribution. To that end Disney has avoided large investments in distribution, beyond its purchase of broadcaster ABC. Meanwhile, competitors have been buying expensive distribution assets to ensure their content will have a channel to consumers. Disney faced a challenge to its position on distribution assets when a cable company, owned by Time Warner, dropped ABC programming from its lineup during a critical ratings period called “sweeps week.” The case looks at Disney’s distribution capabilities in 2001 and examines the competitive landscpape for content producers and surveys new distribution technologies.
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