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Under the restructuring, Disney creatives will focus on developing and producing original content for the company's streaming services including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, the upcoming Star and "legacy platforms," while distribution and commercialization activities will now be merged into a single global Media Entertainment and Distribution group.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement Monday that the move will strategically position the company to support its growth strategy and increase shareholder value by allowing the company to be "more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it."
"Our creative teams will concentrate on what they do best—making world-class, franchise-based content—while our newly centralized global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetizing that content in the most optimal way across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the coming Star international streaming service,” Chapek added.
The Media and Entertainment Distribution group will be headed by Kareem Daniel, former president of Disney's Consumer Products, Games and Publishing division. In addition to overseeing the company's streaming service operations, Daniel will be in charge of all monetization of content including distribution, advertising, and sales. The Media and Entertainment Distribution group will also have sole profit and loss accountability for Disney’s media and entertainment businesses. Daniel will report directly to Bob Chapek.
Rebecca Campbell will serve as chairman of International Operations and Direct-to-Consumer, which will no longer be managed on a combined basis under the reorganization. As leader of the company's international operations, she will be responsible for "coordinating and integrating activities across the various business units in each market to best represent the Company’s overall interests" and will report to Chapek. She will also oversee direct-to-consumer operations for Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, and will report to Daniel.
Bob Iger, in his role as executive chairman, will continue to direct the company’s creative endeavors.
Content creation will be separated between three groups: Studios, General Entertainment and Sports.
The Studios department, led by Walt Disney Studios chief creative officer and co-chairman Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman, will focus on creating branded theatrical and episodic content based on the company's most popular franchises under Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.
General Entertainment, led by Chairman of Walt Disney Television Peter Rice, will focus on entertainment episodic and original long-form content for the Company’s streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks, including 20th Television, ABC Signature and Touchstone Television; ABC News; Disney Channels; Freeform; FX; and National Geographic.
Sports, led by ESPN president James Pitaro, will focus on ESPN's live sports programming as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content, for the cable channels, ESPN+, and ABC.
All four leaders will report directly to Bob Chapek
Disney expects to transition to financial reporting under this structure in the first quarter of fiscal 2021. The company plans to hold a virtual Investor Day on December 10, where it will discuss additional details of its new direct-to consumer strategy.
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The news comes on the heels of a letter sent to Disney CEO Bob Chapek from activist investor Dan Loeb last week, in which Loeb urged the company to reallocate its funds from dividend payments into content for streaming, condense its streaming platforms under one umbrella, and to move the release of its blockbuster films directly to Disney+ to offer increased access and affordablility to for the company's subscribers.
It also comes as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to sideline movie theatres across the globe, forcing the media giant to adapt by delaying blockbuster film releases like "West Side Story" and "Black Widow" to 2021 or releasing films like the live-action Mulan directly to the streaming platform.
Disney+ surpassed more than 60 million subscribers as of the company's third quarter earnings report in August. Together with ESPN+ and Hulu, the company has topped 100 million subscribers.