Pushing its direct-to-consumer digital media business efforts, Walt Disney announced, as part of a reorganization, a new business segment -- one that all global advertising platforms will report into.
Veteran Disney executive Kevin Mayer has been named chairman of the new direct-to-consumer and international business segment. Mayer has been Disney's Chief Strategy Officer since 2015.
Mayer will head efforts around Disney's upcoming OTT products -- ESPN+ and a Disney-branded streaming service, which looks to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
Additionally, it will oversee an expected larger stake in Hulu, coming from the acquisition of 21st Century Fox businesses. Disney and Fox each have a 30% stake in Hulu. NBCUniversal also has a 30% interest in the digital video platform; Time Warner controls the other 10%.
Disney’s global advertising-supported platforms -- including ESPN, ABC, Freeform and the Disney Channels--will move from Disney’s Media Networks business segment to the new direct-to-consumer and international segment.
Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales for Disney|ABC Television Group, and Edward Erhardt, president, global sales & marketing, ESPN, will now report to Kevin Mayer.
The Disney-branded service is expected to launch in 2019 will be home to live-action and animated movies in the pay TV window from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, original and exclusive series and movie programming, and Disney film and television libraries.
ESPN+, a standalone streaming service, will start later this year at $4.99 a month. Recently, James Pitaro, was named president of ESPN and co-chair of the Disney Media Networks.
Also, as part of the reorganization, Disney’s consumer products and interactive media segment will now be part of its parks and resort business. This will be headed up by Bob Chapek, currently chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Disney’s global program-sales operations headed by Janice Marinelli, president, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment & Television Distribution, will also be integrated into the direct-to-consumer and international business segment.