Our website is having a makeover! www.thecasecentre.org will be unavailable from 10h (BST) on Saturday 31 July until 17h on Sunday 1 August while our team makes the new site live.

Category winner:
Disney Enters Streaming Space: Can it Disrupt the Disruptor?

Share this page:

This case won the Knowledge, Information and Communication Systems Management category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021#CaseAwards2021

The case

disneyWho – the protagonists

Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company (Disney).


Growing from a cartoon studio founded by two brothers (Walt and Oliver) in 1923, Disney has become a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with operations in more than 40 countries.

The company generated annual revenues of $55.1 billion in the fiscal year 2017.


Disney plusBy the end of 2017, a total of 24.9 million viewers had cut the cord on cable, satellite, or telco TV services in the US – up 43.6% year over year.

In an attempt to address investor concern, Robert announced that Disney would end its distribution agreement with Netflix and launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming services in the form of ESPN+ (sports) and a Disney-branded film and TV streaming offering (which has since become Disney+).

The game changer was Disney acquiring media giant 21st Century Fox in an all-stock deal of $71.3 billion, giving Disney control of Fox’s film and television assets as well as stakes in video-streaming service Hulu and overseas television service providers, Sky plc and Star India.


ESPN+ launched in April 2018 and exceeded expectations. Disney+ was due to launch later in 2019.


Disney is an American company but it’s safe to say that it’s a global phenomenon.

Eric SchifferKey quote

“It gives a way for Disney to body slam Netflix as it launches its direct-to-consumer streaming to connect with younger people who wince at satellite and cable. It keeps Disney aligned on the right side of the shift in ‘the force’ of millennial-led shifts in media.” – Eric Schiffer, CEO of private equity firm The Patriarch Organization.

What next?

As Robert geared up to accomplish Disney’s streaming ambitions, the questions he faced were: Can Disney battle digital disruption and shake up the streaming market? Can the Fox acquisition help Disney in gaining a timely advantage in streaming content wars or was it too late for it to succeed in streaming?

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

Educators can login to view a free educator preview copy of this case and its teaching note.

Disney Enters Streaming Space: Can it Disrupt the Disruptor?
Ref 919-0004-1

Teaching note
Ref 919-0004-1

The authors


Syeda Maseeha Qumer and Debapratim Purkayastha

Syeda is a double Case Award winner after collecting the Outstanding Case Writer Competition prize in 2018.

Debapratim now has 11 trophies to his name, including five in this category, and is just two away from Sumantra Ghoshal’s all-time record of 13 awards.

Continuous success

Debapratim said: “We are honoured and extremely delighted to win this coveted award. This category has grown in significance in the new age marked by digital disruption, and we are proud that ICFAI Business School has had continuous success in this category. We are happy that many business professors worldwide found our case useful and worthy of adoption both in offline and online classes.”

Hot topic

Syeda added: “Digital disruption has become a hot topic in recent years and online streaming has become mainstream. With new players entering the market, the resultant streaming wars make for interesting discussions and learning.

Disney castle“Disney is a fabulous company to study and analyse in management classes, and its strategy to crack the global over-the-top media service market, dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime, makes for lively discussions.

“We think this case has been so popular because it stimulates rich classroom discussions on whether Disney’s new streaming platform can battle digital disruption and unsettle the disruptor Netflix. Students can enjoy the session and also debate whether Disney has what it takes to bring about disruptive change in the new market it entered.”

Making the case reader-friendly

Debapratim explained: “Writing a compelling case is no easy task. For this case, we explored various sources related to Disney’s digital transformation journey, and also emerging literature on digital disruption. We feel that a well written case is one way of bringing the most contemporary themes and research into the classroom even before they appear in textbooks. For that to happen, the case also has to be made reader-friendly.”

Underlying dilemma

Underlying dilemmaSyeda added: “It’s important to weave a good story with an underlying dilemma as it will go a long way towards increasing students’ interest and engagement. To begin with, a good case should reflect the ambiguity of the situation, and its intent should be to create a dialogue with students, encourage critical thinking and research, and evaluate recommendations.”

Debapratim concluded: “If you are looking for a follow-up case on digital disruption, check out this Revlon case which is suitable for teaching online as well as offline. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations are highly prone to failure, and digital disruption demands a new approach to ERP. The Revlon case helps students understand and mitigate the inherent ERP implementation risks.”

About the authors

Syeda Maseeha Qumer is an Adjunct Research Faculty at ICFAI Business School (IBS) Case Research Center.
e maseeha@icmrindia.org

Debapratim Purkayastha is Director (Case Research Center) at ICFAI Business School (IBS).
e debapratim@icmrindia.org
tw @dpurkayastha

Instructor viewpoint

Discover how this case works in the classroom.

Nelson Phillips“This is an excellent case that raises many interesting questions around disruption and responses to disruption. Even more importantly, students find it relevant and easy to understand. I highly recommend it!”

Nelson Phillips, Professor of Innovation and Strategy at Imperial College London.


View all the 2021 winners