Finally making a big show of fulfilling Bob Iger's commitment to turn The Walt Disney Company into a multi-platform, content-leveraging machine, Disney agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.
It's high time that Disney opened its enviably-stuffed wallet and mined opportunities with non-Disney brands and its purchase of Marvel would seem to be one of the least risky deals out there. Marvel is notoriously lean (Disney made it clear that the purchase was not about driving efficiencies), and it began producing its own movies a year or so ago rather than relying on licensing revenue only. Speaking of licensing, any visit to a major retailer will tell you that Marvel is no stranger to the gift that keeps on giving after movie releases: product licensing. Doesn’t hurt that Marvel also provides a much-needed testosterone boost to Disney’s girlie brand stable.
The rub is that Marvel’s existing licensing agreements will prevent Disney from capitalizing on some of its best-known characters for the short term so Disney has to bank on Marvel’s character portfolio staying evergreen; risky business in these fickle times . . . and when some grumble that content will not be king forever. At the end of the day, the fact that Disney paid top dollar for long-term potential vs. bottom feeding for short-term survival makes the deal an encouraging bellwether for the industry if nothing else. A rising tide lifts!