Disney CEO Bob Chapek opened Disney’s upfront in New York by telling a crowd of several hundred advertisers that the company is “the most powerful force in the industry” and “the most enduring and beloved name in entertainment.”
After a bumpy start to 2022, at least in terms of public perception, Disney has delivered positive results recently, reporting streaming gains and improved theme park revenue in the quarter ending in early April. The upfronts crowd has been anticipating the Disney presentation with particular relish since the news earlier this year that Disney+ is poised to add a cheaper, ad-supported tier. (Chapek’s remarks included a brief tease of that move.)
Jimmy Kimmel Virtually Rips Netflix Ills, Disney Brass, Streamer PlusterF*ck & More At Upfronts; ‘Live!’ Host Tested Positive For Covid Today
“Today is a little bit like a homecoming because I started my career in advertising,” Chapek said. “Disney will be celebrating our 100th anniversary later this year, and that is an incredible milestone. I can’t help but think about this moment in the context of what this company has always been, what it is today, and what it will be.”
Before embarking on his three-decade run at Disney, Chapek worked in brand management at H.J. Heinz, and at ad agency J. Walter Thompson.
The company’s storytellers and technological advances over its first century, Chapek continued, have “repeatedly defined and then redefined the entertainment landscape.” They have helped Disney stories “access a very special place in the hearts of all audiences,” he added, and the company has also also created an “unmatched synergy machine” in order to connect those stories with audiences.
Chapek is the first top-level CEO of a participating company to speak thus far at the upfronts, a series of annual ad pitches running through Thursday. (NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell delivered remarks on Monday, but the structure is different at Comcast/NBCU.) Traditionally, ad sales and production execs dominate the stages during upfronts week.
Upfront Week 2022 Presentation & Party Schedule
The last time the upfronts were held in person, in 2019, Disney had merged previously separate presentations for ESPN and Hulu into the main event, alongside ABC and its cable networks. That streamlining will add a Disney+ element this time around, given that ad buyers will be able to get in on the company’s flagship service.
Breaking with its longtime precedent of hosting the upfront at Lincoln Center, Disney set up in Basketball City, a venue along the East River in lower Manhattan, not far from its ESPN studio facility at South Street Seaport. Chapek and other speakers stood at the center of a long, catwalk-like stage spanning the width of the seven basketball courts that usually fill the space.
Along with the entertainment portfolio, across linear and streaming, production and distribution, Chapek added a reference to live events in news and sports as well as the company’s theme parks. “You can access” that ecosystem, he told ad buyers, “by partnering with us.”
Wrapping up his four-minute start to the presentation, Chapek concluded, “When you look at the entertainment landscape, I believe Disney stands alone. And in case you can’t tell, I’m incredibly optimistic about Disney’s future and one of the reasons is our fantastic leadership team.”
He then introduced Kareem Daniel, a former Chapek protégé installed in 2020 after Chapek took over as CEO in the newly created role of Chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.