The Walt Disney Co. announced a reorganization of its businesses as the company prepares to launch direct-to-consumer services and seeks to grow internationally.
Kevin Mayer, who has served as Disney’s chief strategy officer, has named chairman of the new Direct-to-Consumer and International business segment — elevating the increasingly visible executive behind some of Disney’s biggest acquisitions to an operational role.
“Kevin is a proven leader who has played a critical role in bringing together the collection of creative and technological assets that will allow Disney to offer unparalleled entertainment experiences in a direct-to-consumer future,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a statement.
Bob Chapek, head of Disney Parks and Resorts, will take on additional responsibility for Disney’s consumer products. He assumes expanded responsibilities as former consumer products chief, Jimmy Pitaro, moves to oversee ESPN.
“Bob comes to this new role with an impressive record of success at both Parks and Resorts and Consumer Products, and he is the perfect leader to run these combined teams,” Iger said.
The promotions — including the decision to give Mayer a hands-on role in running a business unit — would seemingly position the two executives for consideration to succeed Iger. The 66-year-old chief executive was to retire in 2019, but is expected to remain in the top job and oversee the integration of Fox’s film and television assets, should regulators approve the proposed $52.4 billion acquisition.
Under the new structure, the Direct-to-Consumer segment will have a broad mandate comprising Disney’s planned ESPN+ and Disney branded streaming services, its stake in Hulu and its international media business, including the international Disney Channels.
Senior Vice President Agnes Chu will move to the Direct-to-Consumer segment, where she’ll continue to oversee programming for the upcoming Disney-branded streaming service. The BAMTech group whose technology will power the new streaming services, headed by Michael Paull, similarly moves to this division.
Global advertising sales for Disney’s media properties – including ESPN, ABC, Freeform and the Disney Channels – will move from Media Networks group to Mayer’s unit, a change that gives advertisers a one-stop-shop for all of Disney’s media properties, including its online and direct-to-consumer platforms.
Rita Ferro, president of Disney/ABC Television advertising sales, and Edward Erhardt, president of ESPN sales and marketing, will now report to Mayer. The company’s program-sales operations headed by Janice Marinelli—including global distribution of film and television content to the Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, Hulu and other third-party platforms and channels, as well as Movies Anywhere– also will fall under Mayer’s supervision.
As head of the new Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products unit, Chapek will be charged with managing the licensing of toys, apparel, home goods and digital apps and the operation of Disney stores around the world and online. Disney said uniting consumer products with the theme parks’ retail operations will result in greater efficiencies and “incomparable” products.
The Disney Media Networks business segment is co-chaired by Ben Sherwood, president of Disney|ABC Television Group, and Pitaro. The Studio business led by Alan F. Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, remains virtually the same, with the exception of the management of program sales.
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