While the ultimate judgment of history on Facebook remains, let’s say, murky— with questions like “How many cute cat pictures make up for skewing elections into the control of extremist uncle-types?” hanging eternally over the service’s head—the company’s work in the field of techbro distraction is far closer to unimpeachable.
Certainly, Disney is indebted to its old pal “Meta” today, as CEO Bob Chapek attempted to draw focus from the bad news at a corporate earnings call by touting the idea that Mickey et al. would soon have a “metaverse” of their own.
Chapek was talking to investors at Disney’s Q4 earnings call today, revealing that streaming service Disney+ had logged its slowest growth this quarter since it first launched back in 2019. Specifically, the company has added about 2.1 million subscribers over the last three months—a number that was something like a fifth of what Wall Street had been predicting for the massive entertainment giant.
Perhaps sensing his own blood in the water, Chapek said the things CEOs usually say in these circumstances: That the dip in growth was expected (at least in part due to COVID-related content delays) and that a bounce back was expected soon. All of which was then followed by sudden, unexpected promises that Disney is totally getting into this whole “metaverse” thing we’ve all been hearing about ceaselessly for the last week.
“The Walt Disney Company has a long track record as an early adopter in the use of technology to enhance the entertainment experience,” Chapek said, apparently trying to tap into the same fervent and unquestioning excitement that’s greeted Facebook’s own pursuit of VR/AR augmentation.
Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse, and we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms, wherever the consumer may be.
And, really, you can tell this is the good metaverse shit, because we not only have no idea what Chapek is talking about, but also no idea of how it would actually connect to the company’s current products or plans. (“Ah,” no one ever thought, “A version of Disney+ where I have to walk an avatar across a room to watch The Simpsons.”)
Sadly, Wall Street does not appear to have been dazzled by this particular electronic shell game; Disney’s stock has dropped 4 percent since the company’s Q4 earning numbers were released.