Today in 1995 Michael Eisner announced the acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC. With the purchase, the TV station that made Disneyland possible joined the Disney family. So did ESPN, A&E, Lifetime, and a long list of local stations and other media interests. The deal also came with Bob Iger. Iger would eventually replace Eisner as the CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
“Exporting American entertainment is one of the things we do very well,” Eisner said. “The key is to create it first.”
Financially, it’s been great for Disney, but it was also the first step down a path that has lead to the addition of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. All properties that became stronger and more profitable after their acquisition by Disney (although the jury is still out on Star Wars).
How do you feel about how different the Walt Disney Company is today from when Walt was alive? What would Walt think?
I think Walt would roll over in his grave if he saw the Disney Channel. Other than that, I think he’d be pleased with the strong amount of intellectual property they now own. Also, I could see him being blown away by the original Star Wars, he seems like the type with a curious mind who would greatly appreciate the universe Lucas created.
Also, I think I’d mentioned that ABC included partial interests in A&E and Lifetime. I think that’s important. All in all, this post reminds me of the book Disneywar, which chronicles Eisner’s reign as CEO and the eventually war to get him out. Very great read.