Disney reorganizes to focus on streaming

As the pandemic continues to affect its other business segments, the House of Mouse is doubling down on direct-to-consumer business.
October 13, 2020

Disney is doubling down on direct-to-consumer. The Walt Disney Company has announced a strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment segments in order to accelerate its streaming efforts.

The new structure will see the company focus on developing and producing original content for its streaming services as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect its parks, experiences and products business. Moving forward, content creation will be managed in three groups—studios, general entertainment and sports.

Alan Horn (previously co-chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Studios) and Alan Bergman (previously co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios) will serve as chairmen of studios content, focusing on branded feature film and episodic content inspired by the company’s franchises for Disney+ and other streaming services, as well as for theatrical release. The group will include Walt Disney Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.

The general entertainment group, meanwhile, will be lead by Peter Rice (previously chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks). As chairman of general entertainment content, he will focus on episodic and original long-form content for Disney’s streaming platforms, as well as its cable and broadcast networks. This group will include 20th Television, ABC Signature and Touchstone Television, ABC News, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic.

Distribution and commercialization activities, meanwhile, will be centralized into a global media and entertainment distribution organization headed by Kareem Daniel (pictured), previously president of consumer products, games and publishing. The media and entertainment distribution group will be responsible for global distribution, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions for all of Disney’s content engines. This new group will also manage operations for Disney’s streaming services and domestic television networks, working closely with the content creation teams on programming and marketing.

Horn, Bergman, Rice and Daniel will all report to CEO Bob Chapek. Managing content creation separately from distribution will allow the company to be more effective and flexible in its efforts to deliver new entertainment to its various platforms, including Disney+ and Hulu, Chapek said in a statement.

In a previous announcement, Rebecca Campbell will serve as chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer. Under the reorganization, Disney’s DTC and international business will no longer be managed in a combined way. This shift will see Campbell report to Chapek in leading international operations, and to Daniel in leading DTC operations for Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.

Disney’s parks, experiences and products business will continue to operate under its existing structure, led by chairman Josh D’Amaro. Executive chairman Bob Iger will continue to direct Disney’s creative efforts.

This new structure is effective immediately, and Disney expects to transition its financial reporting under this structure in Q1 2021.

In other House of Mouse news, Disney Channel has greenlit animated superhero comedy Hamster & Gretel from Dan Povenmire (Phineas and Ferb). The music-focused series will follow protective older brother Kevin as he tries to help his younger sister and her pet hamster navigate newly acquired superpowers.

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