The Disney chief Bob Iger told analysts that UltraViolet sales are “not as robust” as expected
Disney may force Redbox to wait 28 days before it can buy new releases for rental, the company's president and CEO Robert Iger said on a Tuesday earnings call with analysts.
The move would be a departure for the studio. Unlike Warner Bros., Universal and other major studios, Disney has largely resisted the temptation to push back release windows for home entertainment chains like Blockbuster and Netflix.
Iger said that the studio is currently in discussions with the kiosk company about making it wait nearly a month before they can buy DVDs and Blu-rays directly from Disney.
"We feel that would be a wise thing for us to do," Iger said.
He noted that because of the First Sale doctrine companies like Redbox can buy discs from third-party distributors if they do not want to honor release window delays. That's precisely what the kiosk company plans to do with Warner Bros. movies now that the parties have failed to come to a deal about extending release windows to 56 days.
Beyond rental delays, Iger expressed doubts about UltraViolet, the cloud-based technology being pushed by other studios as a way to encourage consumers to buy digital copies of movies and television shows. In theory that is something the studio would be interested in, particularly given that it cited a declining DVD market was one of the reasons for its weak studio revenue.
Disney has thrown its weight behind developing its own digital locker called KeyChest, although Iger admitted the roll-out was behind schedule.
It is the only major studio not to join the consortium behind UltraViolet, and Iger made it clear that Disney would not be reversing course any time soon.
"I don't want to sound too critical, but we're taking a wait-and-see approach on UltraViolet," Iger said. "I'm not suggesting that we're not open-minded about it, but so far I'm not sure that it's proven to be as robust as we'd expected or as consumer-friendly as we had hoped. Again, that's not to say that we wouldn't necessarily consider it, but it's way too early to conclude that."