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Disney Reorganizes to Create Direct to Consumer Segment

As its media units move to create over-the-top streaming products, the Walt Disney Co. is reorganizing to create a direct to consumer and international unit.

Kevin Mayer, who has been Disney’s chief strategy officer since 2015, was named chairman of the new unit.

The reorganization leaves Disney with four segments. In addition to the new unit, there are Media Networks; Studio Entertainment and a segment that combines Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products.

The Media Networks unit continues to be co chaired by Ben Sherwood and James Pitaro, the new head of ESPN. The Studio Entertainment business is run by Alan Horn.

Management of global advertising sales for Disney’s media properties--including ESPN, ABC, Freeform and the Disney Channels--will move from Media Networks to the new Direct-to-Consumer and International segment, giving advertisers a one-stop-shop for reaching audiences across all of Disney’s media properties, including its online and direct-to-consumer platforms. Rita Ferro, President, Advertising Sales, Disney|ABC Television Group, and Edward Erhardt, President, Global Sales & Marketing, ESPN, will now report directly to Mayer. Advertising technology operations across the Company’s media properties will also be managed under the new segment.

“We are strategically positioning our businesses for the future, creating a more effective, global framework to serve consumers worldwide, increase growth, and maximize shareholder value,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “With our unparalleled Studio and Media Networks serving as content engines for the Company, we are combining the management of our direct-to-consumer distribution platforms, technology and international operations to deliver the entertainment and sports content consumers around the world want most, with more choice, personalization and convenience than ever before.”

The Direct-to-Consumer and International segment is seen as a global multiplatform media, technology and distribution organization for content created by the studios and media networks.

It will include Disney’s international media businesses, the upcoming Disney branded streaming service, ESPN+ and the company’s stake in Hulu.

BAMTech, which is headed by Michael Paull, is developing both the Disney-branded and ESPN+ streaming platforms and will now house all consumer-facing digital technology and products across the Company as part of the Direct-to-Consumer and International segment.