Disney Reorganizes Content and Distribution Units to Bolster Streaming Businesses
The Walt Disney Company on Monday announced a major structural reorganization of its media and entertainment business to improve and streamline its direct-to-consumer strategy. This includes creating the new media and entertainment distribution group that oversees all content monetization and streaming operations. Kareem Daniel, most recently president of consumer products, games and publishing at Disney, will lead the unit.
The move comes just under a year after Disney Plus launched, which has since passed the 60 million subscriber mark.
As part of the new structure, the studios will continue to develop and produce originals for Disney's streaming services - including Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus - and older platforms. Sales and marketing are now centralized under the Media and Entertainment Distribution group.
"Given the incredible success of Disney + and our plans to accelerate our direct customer business, we are strategically positioning our company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value," CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. “By managing the creation of content differently from distribution, we can make the content consumers want most, more effectively and flexibly, and deliver it as they prefer. Our creative teams will focus on what they do best - creating world-class, franchise-based content - while our newly centralized global sales team will focus on delivering and delivering that content optimally across all platforms including Disney +, Hulu monetize. ESPN + and the upcoming international star streaming service. "
Three groups will be responsible for producing content for film, linear TV and streaming services: Studios, General Entertainment and Sports, led by Alan F. Horn and Alan Bergman, Peter Rice and James Pitaro. The reorganization will take effect immediately and Disney's financial reporting will transition to the new structure in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.
Daniel's division will be responsible for the P&L management, sales, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions worldwide for the production of Disney content and operations for the streamers and US television networks of Manage Disney.
The reorganization means that the top management in studios, general entertainment and sports remains unchanged. Alan Horn and Alan Bergman will serve as studio content chairs, Peter Rice will serve as general entertainment content chairs, and James Pitaro will serve as ESPN and sports content chairs. All five will report directly to Chapek.
The studio division will lead the creation of branded content for theaters and episodes based on the Disney franchise and creation at Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures monitor. Rice's division will focus on general long-form episodic and original content such as those produced by 20th Television, ABC Signature and Touchstone Television, ABC News, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic. Pitaro will continue to monitor ESPN's live sports programming, sports news, and original and non-written sports content for Cable, ESPN Plus, and ABC.
Josh D’Amaro will continue to lead Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products division. Rebecca Campbell continues to lead international operations and direct sales - but these two companies will no longer be merged. Campbell will report to Chapek on international affairs. She'll report to Daniel on streaming.
Variety has also learned that Ricky Strauss, most recently Director of Content and Marketing for Disney Plus, has been named Curation Director for Disney Plus and Hulu.
"I am honored to lead this new organization at such a crucial and exciting time for our company and I am grateful to Bob for giving me the opportunity," said Daniel. “It is a great privilege to work with the talented and dedicated teams in this group and I look forward to working closely with the outstanding and incredibly successful team of creative content executives in the company as we build together on the success we do we have already achieved in our DTC and legacy distribution business. "
Daniel, who has been with Disney for 14 years, has a leadership history across the company. Outside of consumer products, games and publications, he also worked in studio sales and at Walt Disney Imagineering. Prior to his last position, Daniel was President of Walt Disney Imagineering Activities, Production Creation, Publishing and Games. There he oversaw the transformation of intellectual property in parks and resorts such as Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and Toy Story Land in Diseny World and Shanghai Disneyland.
Chapek described Daniel as "an exceptionally talented, innovative, and forward-thinking leader with a strong track record in developing and implementing successful global content distribution and marketing strategies." He added that "delivering and monetizing our great content as optimally as possible" will be of vital importance if the company is to grow its direct customer business.
"His wealth of experience will enable him to effectively bring the company's sales, advertising, marketing and sales functions together to create a distribution powerhouse that will serve all of Disney's media and entertainment businesses," said Chapek.
For more information on Disney's direct-to-consumer strategies, please visit Virtual Investor Day on December 10th.
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