Disney is doubling down on direct-to-consumer distribution, focussing on developing and producing original content for its online services as well as what it describes as legacy platforms. Distribution and commercialisation activities will be merged into a single, global media and entertainment distribution organisation. This will have sole profit and loss accountability for the media and entertainment businesses.
Production will be managed under three distinct groups headed by their current leaders. These three groups will be responsible and accountable for producing and delivering content for theatrical, linear and streaming, with the primary focus being on its streaming services.
Studios will be led by Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. The group includes 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.
General entertainment will be led by Peter Rice. It will produce episodic and original long-form content for the Disney streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks.
Sports will be led by James Pitaro, which 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.
A separate Media and Entertainment Distribution group will be headed by Kareem Daniel, formerly the president of consumer products, games and publishing. It will be responsible for all Disney distribution, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions worldwide and it will also manage operations of the its streaming services and domestic television networks.
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will continue to be led by Josh D’Amaro.
They will all report directly to Bob Chapek, the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.
Rebecca Campbell will serve as chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer. She will report to the chief executive in her role in co-ordinating and integrating activities across the various business units in each market, but will report to Kareem Daniel in her role leading the Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ operations.
“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,” he said. “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.”
“As we now look to rapidly grow our direct-to-consumer business, a key focus will be delivering and monetizing our great content in the most optimal way possible,” he said, “and I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Kareem.”
Bob Iger, in his role as executive chairman, will continue to direct the Company’s creative endeavours.
Disney is making a bold bet on its future in online distribution. While it is putting consumers first, it risks disrupting the distribution architecture that has served movie studios for decades. It represents a further threat to the future of theatrical exhibition that has historically driven the distribution cycle.