Disney’s Iger says the Web is replacing children’s TV

Robert Iger, Walt Disney’s president and CEO, said last week that the computer is quickly replacing the television set as children’s’ primary choice of media outlet. “In the years ahead, broadband on the computer will be the primary source of entertainment for kids,” he said. “It’s just as important to them as the TV set now.”

Iger said social media is far from a Gen X or Gen Y fad, but in fact a part of everyday life for children. He was very positive about the possibilities of digital media during remarks last week at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York City.

He said digital media has changed the perception of the Disney brand since he took over the company in 2005. He forecast $1 billion in digital revenue for Disney this year — up from $750 million in 2007.

Iger said Disney is beefing up its Internet presence in markets such as China and Australia, and is enhancing its social media, including Disney’s kids-friendly Club Penguin virtual world and an upcoming interactive platform centered on the hit film “Cars.”

Iger also expressed pleasure in Disney’s iTunes sales, saying that his company has sold around 4 million movies and 40 million to 50 million television episodes through iTunes during its 18-month partnership. He said the sales had not cannibalized Disney’s traditional media revenues.

In another prediction for Internet dominance, Michael Eisner, formerly CEO of Disney and now producer of programming for the Web, predicted last week that the Internet will become as important as pay-television within five years.

In an interview with Mark Cuban at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Eisner said he didn’t fully comprehend the details of the technology, only that he predicted it would happen. “This is why I’m in content,” said.