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Bob Iger Explains Why Disney Bought Maker Studios

The Disney CEO says Maker brings with it short-form expertise and a big distribution platform.

Still wondering why Walt Disney Co., home to Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, Captain America, Luke Skywalker and other enduring characters, bought the studio behind YouTube’s PewDiePie?

Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger offered the rationale for the company’s $500 million acquisition of the money-losing Maker Studios Tuesday during the Burbank entertainment giant’s second-quarter earnings call.

“We’re excited about entering the short-form video space in a much more assertive manner,” Iger said at the onset of the investor call. “Maker’s production talent and leadership will create exciting new opportunities to derive value from our content and create new content as well.”

Wall Street’s investment community pressed for details about how Maker Studios stacks up when compared with other (admittedly more pricey) world-class brand acquisitions: Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm.

Iger said Maker has established itself as a brand in the rapidly evolving world of online entertainment. It’s one of the most successful of the multichannel networks, attracting 380 million subscribers with its network of some 55,000 channels.

“We look at it, first and foremost, as a successful distribution platform,” Iger said. “One that can command more eyeballs, more consumption and more advertising revenue.”

Beyond that, Iger said, the Maker team has a depth of expertise in creating short-form video that Disney lacked internally.

Combining Maker’s deftness at short-attention-span theater with Disney’s familiar characters from the “Star Wars” universe or Marvel’s thousands of superheroes would expand the reach of short-form video, Iger said.

GloZell meets Princess Leia?

Disney is the most deft of the Hollywood studios when it comes to marketing.

Iger said he hopes to tap Maker’s expertise to create short-form videos to promote movies or television shows to the digital natives who gravitate to YouTube by the millions.

“We think there’s a huge marketing opportunity for this company,” Iger said.

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