- Disney announced a major reorganization on Monday that prioritizes streaming, as the pandemic continues to upend the company’s parks and theatrical businesses.
- Disney created a new Media and Entertainment Distribution Group, overseen by Kareem Daniel, 14-year Disney veteran who was most recently president of consumer products, games, and publishing.
- Daniel will make decisions on advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney’s content in his new role.
- The executives currently in charge of Disney’s movies, TV, and sports arms — Alan Horn, Alan Bergman, Peter Rice, and Jimmy Pitaro — will continue to oversee those.
- “There is a seismic shift happening in the marketplace, and you can either lead or follow and we chose to lead,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said of the reorganization.
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As Disney zeroes in on streaming amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company has elevated a new streaming chief.
As part of a major reorganization announced on Monday that could rock Hollywood, Disney veteran Kareem Daniel has been tasked with overseeing a new Media and Entertainment Distribution Group, in which he’ll make decisions on advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney’s content.
Daniel has worn many Disney hats since becoming an intern during graduate school and then joining the company in 2007 in strategic planning, according to Bloomberg.
He was most recently president of consumer products, games, and publishing. In this role he oversaw Disney’s efforts to create and deliver products through the Disney Store, Disney Parks, and retail partners. He also led Disney’s games and interactive business, as well as Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Before that, he held a variety of roles, including president of Imagineering operations, which designs Disney’s theme-park attractions.
“He is a brilliant executive who has an unbelievable objectivity when it comes to fact-based decision making,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek told Bloomberg. “It perfectly positions him to be the right guy to make decisions. Not because there’s a legacy of the business, but because it’s right for today.”
Disney has been vocal about its streaming ambitions before and after the launch of Disney Plus. The former CEO Bob Iger even called streaming Disney’s “No. 1 priority” during an earnings call last February.
Nearly a year after Disney Plus’ launch, that’s even more true.
With more than 60 million subscribers, the service has been Disney’s crown jewel this year as it reels from the devastation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced its theme parks to close for months and has delayed its theatrical movies. The company has even debuted some movies intended for theaters, including the big-budget “Mulan” remake, on Disney Plus.
So it seemed inevitable when Disney announced the reorganization, which aims to focus on Disney’s streaming business that also includes Hulu and ESPN Plus, and moves its movie and TV divisions under the central group led by Daniel.
“There is a seismic shift happening in the marketplace, and you can either lead or follow and we chose to lead,” Chapek said of the restructuring.
The executives currently in charge of Disney’s movies, TV, and sports arms will still oversee those.
- Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, the cochairs of Walt Disney Studios, who will lead the movie arm.
- Peter Rice, Disney’s top TV exec, who is now the chair of general entertainment content.
- Jimmy Pitaro, the ESPN chair, who will oversee all sports content and programming.
Rebecca Campbell, who was elevated to chair of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division in May after former chair Kevin Mayer exited the role, will continue to oversee that group, but it will be split in two. She will report to Chapek on the international front and to Daniel in her direct-to-consumer responsibilities.
Iger, who is still the executive chairman, will continue to be active in content creation.
Disney isn’t the only legacy-media company restructuring to put streaming as the center of its business. AT&T’s WarnerMedia went through a massive reorganization in recent weeks that put all production — from Warner Bros. theatrical releases to shows that will stream on HBO Max — under the oversight of Warner Bros. studio chief Ann Sarnoff, and elevated key execs in charge of the streaming business. Comcast’s NBCUniversal also combined its TV and streaming production operations this year.
Here are the five executives who gained power as part of Disney’s reorganization: