Ahead of SVOD launches, Disney consolidates direct-to-consumer, global businesses


Pushing its direct-to-consumer digital media business efforts, Walt Disney announced, as part of a reorganization, a new business segment - one in which all global advertising platforms will report into.

Those services, created to make Disney competitive with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, include ESPN Plus, which will roll out this spring.

Kevin Mayer, who has recently served as chief strategy officer, working on the purchases of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and BamTech, a streaming-focused company, was named chairman of a new Disney division: Direct-to-Consumer and worldwide. The other two units will be its Media Networks and the Studio Entertainment segments, and the reorganization was said to be effective immediately.

The new direct-to-consumer and worldwide segment will serve as a global, multiplatform media, technology and distribution network for Disney's studio entertainment and media networks content. 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.

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Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, assumed the additional responsibility of overseeing all of Disney's consumer-products operations, including licensing and Disney stores.

ESPN+, a standalone streaming service, will start later this year at $4.99 a month. Along with thousands of titles from the Disney film and television libraries, it will also feature new series and made-for-tv movies.

Senior Vice President Agnes Chu, who is overseeing programming for the Disney-branded service that will launch in late 2019, will move to the direct-to-consumer and global segment.

Shares of Disney (DIS) closed Wednesday up 17 cents, or a fraction of a percent, to $103.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.