For the third year in a row, CNBC‘s Alex Sherman asked past and current media executives to make predictions about the media landscape in 2024. Predictions shared in Sherman’s 2022 roundup included the returns of Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs to Disney, CEO Bob Iger extending his contract, and CFO Christine McCarthy leaving the company — all of which came true. Even more of this year’s predictions have to do with The Walt Disney Company.
Bob Iger Will Extend His CEO Contract Again
First, an executive predicts Bob Iger will extend his contract for a second time. When Iger initially returned as CEO in 2022, he signed a two-year contract. Though he has emphasized he and the board are searching for a replacement, they later extended his contract into 2026. And prior to his 2021 retirement, Iger extended his contract multiple times.
The executive says, “Fool me five times, shame on me.” Iger has been CEO of Disney for the better part of twenty years and if Disney is finding success with him, why not extend his contract?
Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo Will Win Campaign to Join Disney Board
Trian Fund Management officially nominated their founder as well as former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo for seats on the Disney board earlier this month.
“The root cause of Disney’s underperformance, in our view, is a Board that is too closely connected to a long-tenured CEO and too disconnected from shareholders’ interests,” Trian stated (via Seeking Alpha). “The Board, we believe, lacks objectivity as well as focus, alignment, and accountability.”
One executive believes Peltz and Rasulo will win their campaign and join the board, while another executive predicted only Rasulo will get a seat.
Iger Will Name Dana Walden as His CEO Successor
If Iger doesn’t extend his contract, he will need to name a successor in late 2024 or early 2025. This executive predicts Dana Walden will take over the CEO position, and that Iger would move back to his chairman position. Walden is currently Co-chairman of Disney Entertainment, leading ABC, Disney Branded Television, Disney Television Studios, Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, and National Geographic Content. Alan Bergman is the Co-chairman in charge of the other studios.
If Walden was named CEO, she would be the first woman in the position.
Another executive mentioned Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA, as a possible replacement. This same executive is the one who, in 2021, predicted Iger would return to Disney as CEO and last year said McCarthy would leave Disney.
Disney Will Buy Candle Media, Kevin Mayer Will Position Himself as Leading CEO Candidate
Two other names that have long been on the CEO shortlist are Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, who originally left Disney after they were both passed over and founded Candle Media.
This executive predicts Disney will buy Candle Media, which owns Moonbug Entertainment, which itself owns the popular CoComelon YouTube channel. Disney would hold onto Moonbug and CoComelon but try to sell off the rest of Candle Media’s assets.
Mayer, meanwhile, would take on a senior role at Disney, positioning himself as Iger’s successor once again. Staggs, they predict, would leave the company.
The two are currently working with Disney as advisors to Iger.
NBA Rights Will Go To Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Apple
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is hoping to distribute their media rights among three partners with different packages. Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery want to maintain their relationship with the NBA. This executive predicts Apple would be the third partner, although another thinks Apple wouldn’t even make a bid.
ESPN Will Be Only College Football Playoff Bidder
The 12-year deal between College Football Playoff (CFP) and ESPN will expire after the 2025 playoff. CFP is hoping to get an increased rights fee, but this executive believes potential bidders will balk at the price and only ESPN will renew their package.
Disney, Netflix, and Max Will Offer Streaming Bundle
The streaming wars have continued for years, despite repeated predictions about different companies bundling their services together in what is essentially a repeat of traditional cable TV. One executive thinks 2024 is the year it will finally happen, with Disney bundling their three streaming services (Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+) with Max and Netflix.
No Movie Will Top $1 Billion at Box Office in 2024
Sherman’s final executive believes that no movie will top $1 billion at the box office year. In 2023, only “Barbie and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” passed the threshold. They think that only “Despicable Me 4” even has a chance.
Theatrical releases on Disney’s calendar next year include the first-ever theater releases of Pixar’s “Soul,” “Turning Red,” and “Luca.” New films are Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” (June 14), Marvel’s “Deadpool 3” (July 26), an untitled Walt Disney Animation Studios film (November 27), and “Mufasa: The Lion King” (December 20). Some films, like the live-action “Snow White,” were delayed due to this summer’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.