Disney Chief Iger Quits Apple's Board -- WSJ

Date : 09/14/2019 @ 8:02AM
Source : Dow Jones News
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Disney Chief Iger Quits Apple's Board -- WSJ

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By Tripp Mickle and Ethan Smith 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (September 14, 2019).

Walt Disney Co.'s Chief Executive Robert Iger resigned from Apple Inc.'s board of directors, the tech giant said on Friday, severing a yearslong connection between the two companies as they prepare to launch competing video-streaming services.

He resigned on Tuesday, Apple said in a one-sentence filing to securities regulators.

Mr. Iger, who has led Disney as CEO since 2005, joined Apple's board in 2012 and was serving as the nominating-committee chair and on the compensation committee. He had a close relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, born out of the 2006 sale of Pixar Animation Studios to Disney. Mr. Jobs was Pixar's chairman.

The resignation came on the day Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced a $4.99 monthly price for its streaming service, Apple TV+, and said it would become available on Nov. 1. The price undercut Disney's plan to charge $6.99 for its Disney+ service, also coming in November.

Apple's filing gave no reason for Mr. Iger's departure. In a statement, the company called him "a dedicated, visionary CEO and a role model for an entire generation of business leaders."

"While we will greatly miss his contributions as a board member, we respect his decision, and we have every expectation that our relationship with Bob and Disney will continue far into the future," Apple's statement said.

Mr. Iger said in a statement that his time on the Apple board was an "extraordinary privilege." He added: "I have the utmost respect for Tim Cook, his team at Apple, and for my fellow board members." He didn't specify why he resigned.

Apple's price for TV+ was widely seen as an attempt to catch up with established media competitors, including Disney and Netflix Inc., in the intensifying streaming wars and compensate for its smaller programming library. Apple plans to launch TV+ with a handful of original shows, including "The Morning Show," a drama about a morning TV news show that stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. The tech giant also will try to leverage its huge existing customer base, with more than 1.4 billion devices in use world-wide.

The two companies' plans to launch competing subscription-video services made it difficult for Mr. Iger to remain on the Apple board, according to a person familiar with Mr. Iger's thinking. "Apple's got a broader role in the media landscape," this person said. "He's reached the conclusion that there are a growing number of issues that will come up before the board that will limit his ability to fully engage and participate as a board member."

Apple TV+ is a much smaller part of the tech giant's overall portfolio. But remaining on the Apple board could have created at least the perception of a conflict of interest, regardless of how much or little board time was dedicated to the subject.

Mr. Iger told Bloomberg Television in April that he was in a "constant dialogue about making sure I'm not doing anything" that would conflict with "what an Apple board member would do." He added the Apple streaming business was "nascent" and "relatively small," so it wasn't discussed much at that time.

Mr. Iger has repeatedly described Disney+ as central to his company's future, as consumers give up cable-television packages in favor of streaming-service bundles of their own creation. The company's $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets was largely a bid to amass content to make Disney+ a viable competitor to Netflix and Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime video service.

Disney's $6.99 month price for its streaming service is itself significantly less than Netflix, which costs $12.99 a month for its standard option. Disney plans to offer Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel movie titles on the service, as well as a slew of original series and "The Simpsons" along with other shows and movies which it acquired in the Fox deal earlier this year.

Write to Tripp Mickle at Tripp.Mickle@wsj.com and Ethan Smith at ethan.smith@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 14, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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