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Disney shakes up int’l, streaming units

The Walt Disney Company is restructuring to bring its direct-to-consumer (DTC) services, technology and international media operations into a single worldwide business.

Kevin Mayer

The newly formed DTC and international unit will sit alongside three other segments at the company: parks, experiences and consumer products; media networks; and studio entertainment. The reorganisation is effective immediately.

Kevin Mayer, who has served as Disney’s chief strategy officer since 2015, has been named chairman of the new DTC and international business segment.

Mayer will continue to report to Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

It will house the company’s DTC businesses globally, including the forthcoming Disney-branded DTC streaming service and its soon-to-launch ESPN+ streaming service.

It will also include the company’s ownership stake in Hulu, which could become a majority share if Disney’s proposed takeover of various 21st Century Fox assets goes through.

The Disney DTC streaming service, which will launch in late 2019 and has yet to be named, will be the exclusive SVoD home for the Mouse House’s latest live-action and animated movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.

It will also feature an array of original and exclusive series and movie programming, along with thousands of titles from the Disney film and television libraries.

Senior VP Agnes Chu will move to the DTC and international segment and will continue to oversee programming for the Disney-branded streaming service.

In addition, the company’s programme sales operations headed by Janice Marinelli, including global distribution of film and TV content to the Disney DTC streaming service, Hulu and other third-party platforms and channels, will be integrated into the DTC and international business unit. Marinelli will report to Mayer.

The company’s international networks, including Disney Channels, will also be consolidated into the new business unit. Disney said these channels will continue to produce localised content under the new structure.

The Walt Disney International team of regional managers across EMEA, Asia and Latin America will now report to Mayer, who has overseen the company’s acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and, most recently, its pending deal for 21st Century Fox.

“Delivering our great stories and characters directly to consumers on all high-quality devices around the world will provide the company with meaningful new revenue streams and opportunities for growth,” said Mayer.

Elsewhere, the Disney Media Networks business unit is co-chaired by Ben Sherwood, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, and James Pitaro, who was recently named president of ESPN and previously served as chairman of Disney consumer products and interactive media.

Disney added the media networks unit will remain virtually the same, with the exception of the international Disney Channel operations that are moving to the DTC and international business segment along with management of global advertising sales and technology.

The studio entertainment business unit, led by Alan F Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, will also remain virtually the same, Disney said, with the exception of the management of programme sales moving to the DTC and international business unit.

The studio entertainment unit includes Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney Live Action, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, as well as Disney Theatrical Group and Disney Music Group.

Meanwhile, Disney’s worldwide consumer products business will be merged with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts under Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Chapek will continue to report to Iger.

“We are strategically positioning our businesses for the future, creating a more effective, global framework to serve consumers worldwide, increase growth, and maximise shareholder value,” said Iger.

“With our unparalleled studio and media networks serving as content engines for the company, we are combining the management of our DTC distribution platforms, technology and international operations to deliver the entertainment and sports content consumers around the world want most, with more choice, personalisation and convenience than ever before.”

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