Michael Eisner Supportive of Florida Animation, Video Streaming

Disney no longer has an animation house in Florida, but former CEO Michael Eisner still thinks having one here would be a great idea. “I though Florida was a great place for an animation studio,” he told SRQ. While he said having a working animation department at Disney Hollywood Studios when the park opened was mostly so people knew the studios weren’t all phony, he was pleased the Florida team produced such content as Brother Bear and Lilo and Stitch. “Florida became a great hotbed of creativity. It still is, with many animators coming out of Ringling, out of all parts of Florida. And there are all kinds of production still in Florida.”

Eisner discussed the matter during a media roundtable shortly before a speech at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, where he also touched on video streaming, social media and leadership. He was the first guest this year for the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series. Today, Eisner runs his own company, The Tornante Company, which involved in a range endeavors from global sports media branding at Topps to creating entertainment content such as Netflix exclusive show BoJack Horseman.

But while he wades these days in new video, the former Paramount Pictures president said reports of network television’s death were premature. “People though television would kill movies; movies are still alive,” he said. “It doesn’t happen. What happens is one and one adds up to 2.5. The audience just grows bigger, and the is more available access to programming. But when that transition happens, existing media gets very nervous.”

Streaming video has changed plenty of things in terms of the lifespan of content, he says. He noted that Bojack Horseman has started winning critics awards as the show prepares for a third season. “It took a year and a half for people to say the show is fantastic,” Eisner said. “Years ago, they would say that in the third week, but it would be off in the third week. It takes so much longer to attract an audience, but when you do, they are very loyal.”

The biggest change from streaming outlets, though, is the sheer volume of content. He noted 300 new television shows will premiere on some outlet in the next three months, an amount that dwarfs what happened in the days when putting Roots on ABC as a mini-series seemed an unprecedented act for television. “There’s a lot of junk,” he joked. “We always seem to maintain our level of junk.” Of course, he also acknowledged that demands weeding through plenty of broadcast detritus.

As for that, while he acknowledged the power of social media and uses Instagram himself to keep up with grandchildren, the best way for a show to find an audience is no different than it has always been. “People are agonizing over Snapchat or Twitter or whatever, but I don’t think that has replaced verbal reach,” he said. “People still do get together on occasion. They go to school on occasion. They still have families. Word-of-mouth is still the most part of marketing.”


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