The Walt Disney Co. shook up the management team for its all-important direct-to-consumer streaming services.
Rebecca Campbell was named chairman, international content and operations, and will increase the company’s focus on local and regional content production for its streaming services. She had been chairman, international operations and direct-to-consumer. International Content and Operations will operate alongside the company’s Studios Content, General Entertainment Content and Sports Content groups.
Michael Paull, who had been head of Disney Plus, was promoted to president, Disney Streaming, responsible for Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus and Star Plus.
Joe Earley, who had been executive VP, marketing & operations for Disney Plus, was named president of Hulu. He replaces Kelly Campbell, who joined Comcast's NBCUniversal as president of Peacock.
A new head of Disney Plus will be named, the company said. The new Disney Plus head will report to Paull, along with Early and Russell Wolff, head of ESPN Plus.
“Disney’s direct-to-consumer efforts have progressed at a tremendous pace in just a few short years, and our organization has continued to grow and evolve in support of our ambitious global streaming strategy,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
“Rebecca has played a vital role in orchestrating our global platform expansion, and I’m excited that she will be leading our new International Content group, bringing her expertise and talent to oversee the growing pipeline of original local and regional content for our streaming services while continuing to lead our international operations,” Chapek said. “Likewise, with a relentless focus on serving consumers, Kareem has developed an industry-leading team of seasoned executives who are uniquely equipped to take our streaming business into Disney’s next century.”
Of the traditional media companies, Disney was most aggressive in setting a shift to streaming. It launched Disney Plus in 2019 and it racked up more than 10 million subscribers the first day it was available. At the end of the third quarter of 2021, Disney Plus had 118.1 million paid subscribers worldwide, but growth was slowing down.
At the same time, with the streaming world becoming more competitive Disney has announced plans to boost its spending on content. In November, Disney said content spending would increase 32% to $33 billion in 2022.
In total, Disney said it had more than 179 million subscriptions across Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu as of the end of fiscal 2021, and that it plans to more than double the number of countries Disney Plus is in to over 160 by fiscal 2023
“From the inception of our DTC business, we have been guided by a single, clear goal--to bring audiences the best entertainment wherever and whenever they choose--and we have continued to build a world-class team to deliver on that promise,” said Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution said.
“Michael Paull has deep experience in the world of streaming, and is an accomplished leader with a passion for this business and a proven track record of building and expanding our streaming operations. Bringing Disney’s streaming platforms together under Michael’s expert leadership will allow us to create an even more compelling value proposition for consumers,” Daniel said.
Earley was with 21st Century Fox when it was acquired by Disney.
I am excited to embark on this new era at Hulu, a streaming pioneer that over the past 15 years has distinguished itself with an unrivaled offering of groundbreaking, award-winning series and films from our talented content partners,” Mr. Earley said. “I have been a longtime Hulu subscriber and fan and have admired the unbridled creativity of the service’s content and culture, and I’m looking forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead, collaborating with our content studios, and tapping into the full power and strength of The Walt Disney Company.” ■
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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