Iger Doesn’t See Disney Getting Into Gambling

While much of the media business is getting ready to cash in on legalized wagering, Walt Disney Co.CEO Bob Iger doesn’t expect the squeaky clean company to place bets on gambling.

“I don’t see the Walt Disney Co., certainly in the near terms, getting involved in the business of gambling by facilitating gambling in any way,” said Iger during the company’s earnings call Tuesday.

But Iger said that ESPN was already talking about wagering and broadcasting information of interest to bettors during some of its programming.

Related: Disney Reports Lower First-Quarter Earnings

“I don’t think there’s plenty of room, and ESPN has done some of this already, and they may do more, to provide information in coverage of sports that would be relevant to, and of particular interest to gambling, and not be shy about it, basically being fairly overt about it,” he said. “But getting into the business of gambling? I rather doubt it.”

Last month during the CES conference in Las Vegas, Turner president David Levy said that there were several ways media companies could make money from gambling, even though he didn’t think Turner, a division of AT&T, would take bets itself. Those options included making referrals to places where viewers could make bets, creating programming for gambling operations or creating special feeds of live sports events that would focus on gambling information and activities.

”We’re big believers that [gambling] is a big part of the future,” Levy said.

Related: ESPN+ Grows to More Than 2M Paid Subscribers

On Disney’s earnings call, Iger also said that there was room for R-rated movie content like Fox's Deadpool and the type of adult-themed programming produced by FX under the Disney corporate umbrella.

“There is certainly popularity amongst Marvel fans for the R-rated Deadpool films,” Iger said. “We’re going to continue in that business and there might be room for more of that.”

He said he hasn’t seen anything in the Fox library or in its current productions that would be a concern from a standards perspective.

But he added it is important that “we’re very carefully branding them and making sure that we’re not in any way confusing the consumer with Disney product or the more traditional Marvel product.”

Iger also said that material produced by FX would more likely wind up on Hulu rather than the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.