Walt Disney Reorganization Sets Stage for Direct-to-Consumer Media Launch in 2019

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The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) is getting ready to unleash its new direct-to-consumer over the top video and content system that is expected to compete against Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and others. Now Bob Iger and Walt Disney’s management team have announced a strategic reorganization across many units to get ready for the next decade.

According to Disney’s release, the new structure will consolidate its Direct-to-Consumer Services unit and the Technology and International Media operations into a single global business. The focus is to help concentrate on growth opportunities.

On top of this action, Walt Disney’s Parks & Resorts unit will combine with its Consumer Products operations for a new hew hub where Disney’s stories, characters and franchises can come to life.

Walt Disney said that Kevin Mayer is named as chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and International segment. Mayer has served as Disney’s Chief Strategy Officer since 2015. Also, Bob Chapek was named Chairman of the Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products segment. Chapek was said to have had an impressive record of success at both Parks & Resorts and in the Consumer Products operations.

The company noted a rapidly changing media landscape and a need to focus on priorities for future growth. All in all, Walt Disney Company is setting itself up into four broader business segments. The other two units will be its Media Networks and the Studio Entertainment segments, and the reorganization was said to be effective immediately.

Disney has said that its new structure of Direct-to-Consumer and International segment will serve as a global multiplatform media powerhouse using the technology and distribution organization for content from Disney’s Studio Entertainment and Media Networks groups. It will include the upcoming Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service and will include the Disney stake in Hulu. It will also include the upcoming ESPN+ streaming service that is to be programmed in partnership with ESPN.

Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming service has yet to be named and it is set to launch in late 2019. Disney maintains that this venue will become the exclusive home for subscription video-on-demand of the newest live-action and animated movies in the Pay TV window from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Along with thousands of titles from the Disney film and television libraries, it will also feature new series and made-for-tv movies.

Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger said of the reorganization:

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. 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 company further noted:

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. This center of excellence for technology and data platforms within the Direct-to-Consumer and International segment will provide the Company not only with increased quality and efficiencies, but also greater consumer insights that will allow for more personalization and substantially improved user experiences.

While most reorganizations can be viewed as problematic, Wall Street is treating Walt Disney with a slightly positive view on an otherwise negative day for the markets. Disney shares were up 0.4% at $104.14, when the Dow was down 242 points at 24,764 and when the S&P 500 was down almost 15 points at 2,749.82.

Walt Disney has a 52-week range of $103.48 to $106.65 and it has a consensus analyst target price of $120.16.