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Disney restructures around D2C

The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) has restructured its media and entertainment businesses to accelerate its direct-to-consumer (D2C) push following the launch of Disney+.

Peter Rice (photo: Monelisa via CC)

The company will now focus on producing content for D2C as well as what it calls “legacy platforms,” while a centralised distribution group will oversee sales of all content globally. The Mouse House said the company’s streaming services would be its primary focus.

Alan F Horn and Alan Bergman (studios), Peter Rice (general entertainment) and James Pitaro (sports) will lead Disney’s three content-creation groups.

Kareem Daniel, formerly president of consumer products, games and publishing, has been named chairman of media and entertainment distribution, which will include the company’s streaming services, led by Rebecca Campbell, chairman of international operations and D2C.

All six leaders will report to TWDC CEO Bob Chapek, while Campbell will report to Daniel in her role leading D2C operations for Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

Disney parks, experiences and products will continue to operate under its existing structure, led by chairman Josh D’Amaro, who continues to report to Chapek.

Bob Iger, in his role as executive chairman, will continue to direct the company’s creative endeavours.

Rebecca Campbell

“Given the incredible success of Disney+ and our plans to accelerate our direct-to-consumer business, we are strategically positioning our company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value,” said Chapek, who succeeded Iger earlier this year.

“Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us 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 centralised global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetising that content in the optimal way across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the coming Star international streaming service.”

Under the new structure, the company’s three content groups will be responsible and accountable for producing and delivering content for theatrical, linear and streaming.

Horn and Bergman will serve as chairmen of studios content, which will focus on creating branded theatrical and episodic content based on the company’s powerhouse franchises for theatrical exhibition, Disney+ and the company’s other streaming services.

Bob Iger

The group will include The Walt Disney Studios, including Disney live action and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.

Rice, meanwhile, will serve as chairman of general entertainment content, which will focus on creating general entertainment episodic and original longform content for the company’s streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks.

The group will include 20th Television, ABC Signature and Touchstone Television; ABC News; Disney Channels; Freeform; FX; and National Geographic.

Pitaro will serve as chairman of ESPN and sports content, which will focus on ESPN’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content, for cable channels, ESPN+, and ABC.

With the reorganisation, the D2C and international business will no longer be managed on a combined basis. The new structure is effective immediately and the company expects to transition to financial reporting under this structure in Q1 2021.

TWDC will hold a virtual investor day on December 10, when it will present further details of its D2C strategies.

The move comes after Disney fast-tracked some of its tentpole movies to Disney+ as a result of the disruption to cinemas caused by the pandemic. Soul, the next movie from Pixar, is the latest feature to get this treatment and will premiere on Disney+ on Christmas Day.

Disney+ became available in eight more European countries last month as part of the ongoing international expansion of the streaming service, which is now available in more than 25 countries.

Meanwhile, Disney+ became the home to all Disney Channel shows and movies in the UK after three of TWDC’s linear TV channels in the country went dark on October 1, following a similar move towards D2C in Australia and New Zealand last year.


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