As the echo of last month’s Apple TV Plus product unveiling continued to loom on Thursday, Disney’s reveal of details surrounding its upcoming Disney Plus streaming service reminded many Apple watchers of an important fact: The iPhone-maker now has a direct competitor sitting on its board of directors.
Disney CEO Bob Iger was appointed to Apple’s board of directors in 2011. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook celebrated Iger’s appointmen, calling him a perfect fit. He cited three elements in Iger’s strategic vision for Disney—”generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology, and expanding into new markets around the world”—as the chief reasons for Iger’s appointment.
Little did Cook know at the time that Iger would put those elements to use in a bid to dominate streaming video—and Apple TV Plus.
When both companies launch their streaming video products later this year, they will go head-to-head for the same consumer dollars. And all the while, Bob Iger will have a seat on both companies’ boards.
The strange relationship hasn’t gone unnoticed.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Friday, Iger said that whenever Apple’s streaming ambitions have been discussed in a board meeting, he’s recused himself. He added, however, that Apple’s streaming “has not been discussed all that much.”
Iger also briefly mentioned the potential conflict on CNBC on Friday, saying that any board member must be “very mindful of… fiscal responsibilities to the shareholders of that company.” He added that streaming video is so far a “very small business to Apple.”
“I’m not at the point where… I believe it’s problematic, but it’s something that I have to continue to monitor,” he said.
Disney owns a slew of major entertainment franchises, ranging from Mickey Mouse to Star Wars. And after closing its $71.3 billion 21st Century Fox merger last month, the company now owns an even bigger library it can bring exclusively to Disney Plus.
Meanwhile, Apple has built its brand on hardware, with the company’s rapidly-growing services sector bolstering its slumping iPhone business. Apple’s investment in services, which spans apps, cloud storage, and music, is now extending to video. And while it may not be a major business today, if Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus both take off, it won’t be long before their respective owners are at odds.
In fact, Disney is already putting pressure on streaming competitors—and maybe even Apple.
Costing just $7 per month when it launches on Nov. 12, Disney Plus will be one of the cheapest video-streaming services on the market. Apple hasn’t announce Apple TV Plus pricing, but in an industry where $10 a month has been the norm for years, it’s possible Disney Plus pricing forces it to change tack.
“We believe Iger and Disney have put much more pressure on Apple around pricing, content, and the overall strategy,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Fortune in an interview. “Disney is too big to ignore and this latest strategic move raised the stakes of streaming for Cook and company”
For its part, Apple has not commented on Iger’s role on the board and did not respond to a Fortune request for comment. And there’s no reason to believe Iger will be asked to resign from the board.
But stay tuned: Disney Plus may have just started a streaming video slugfest, and the fight could spill into Apple’s boardroom.