The Walt Disney Co restructures media & entertainment business globally

Could the restructuring have led to the shakeup at Disney Star India which we are witnessing?

MUMBAI: The last two weeks have seen a spate of departures at Disney Star India. It began with the announcement of chairman India and APAC president Uday Shankar exiting the company by end this year. Star Sports boss Gautam Thakar followed quickly, along with another three executives at senior levels. Uday said the entrepreneurial bug had bit him, and Gautam too might go the same way. Disney Star India CEO K. Madhavan quickly found in Sanjog Gupta a replacement for Gautam, but could the departures have something to do with the reorganisation that was announced yesterday by The Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Chapek is a question that needs to be asked.

Chapek said that Disney’s media and entertainment businesses are being restructured.

Under the new organisation, Disney’s world-class creative engines will focus on developing and producing original content for the company’s streaming services, as well as for legacy platforms, while distribution and commercialization activities will be centralized into a single, global media and entertainment distribution organisation.

The new media and entertainment distribution group will be responsible for all monetisation of content—both distribution and ad sales—and will oversee operations ofDisney’s streaming services. It will also have sole P&L accountability for Disney’s media and entertainment businesses.

The creation of content will be managed in three distinct groups—studios, general entertainment, and sports—headed by current leaders Alan F. Horn and Alan Bergman, Peter Rice, and James Pitaro.

The media and entertainment distribution group will be headed by Kareem Daniel, formerly president, consumer products, games and publishing. All five leaders will report directly to CEO Bob Chapek. Disney parks, experiences and products will continue to operate under its existing structure, led by chairman Josh D’Amaro, who continues have Chapek as his immediate boss. 

The reshuffling has led to the direct to consumer business division no longer being managed on a combined basis. Rebecca Campbell, who chairs that as well as the international business, will report to Chapek for the latter piece, while having Daniel as her reporting superior for Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+.

Creative structure of content groups

Under the new structure, Disney’s  three content groups will be responsible and accountable for producing and delivering content for theatrical, linear and streaming, with the primary focus being its  streaming services:

Studios: Horn and Bergman will serve as chairmen, studios content, which will focus on creating branded theatrical and episodic content based on Disney’s powerhouse franchises for theatrical exhibition, Disney+ and its  other streaming services. The group will include the content engines of 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: Rice will serve as chairman, general entertainment content, which will focus on creating general entertainment episodic and original long-form content for Disney’s streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks. The group will include the content engines of 20th Television, ABC Signature and Touchstone Television; ABC News; Disney Channels; Freeform; FX; and National Geographic.

Sports: Pitaro will serve as chairman, 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 the cable channels, ESPN+, and ABC.

The Distribution group

The media and entertainment distribution group, led by Daniel, will be responsible for the P&L management and all distribution, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions worldwide for Disney’s content engines, and it will also manage its streaming services and domestic television networks’ operations The group will work in close collaboration with the content creation teams on programming and marketing.

The new structure is effective immediately, and Disney expects to transition to financial reporting under it in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.

Its virtual investor day is scheduled for 10 December, where it will present further details of its direct-to-consumer strategies.

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