Over the years, the Walt Disney Company has grown to become an absolutely massive media conglomerate. With so many companies under one roof, Disney would typically be raking in billions of dollars, but the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll as theaters, theme-parks, live sports, and other aspects of the Disney company have been forced to shut down. One of the few areas to grow during this pandemic is Disney+, and in order to better adapt to the changing climate, the Walt Disney Company has announced a major restructuring that will position streaming as their primary focus.
The Walt Disney Company announced a “strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment businesses” today, and under the new structure, “Disney’s world-class creative engines will focus on developing and producing original content for the Company’s streaming services, as well as for legacy platforms, while distribution and commercialization activities will be centralized into a single, global Media and Entertainment Distribution organization.” This new streaming content will fall under three distinct groups, Studios, General Entertainment, and Sports. The Studio portion of this new structure will be headed up by Alan F. Horn and Alan Bergman, who will be responsible for “creating branded theatrical and episodic content based on the Company’s powerhouse franchises for theatrical exhibition, Disney+ and the Company’s other streaming services. The group will include the content engines of The Walt Disney Studios, including Disney live action and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.” In a statement, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said:
Given the incredible success of Disney+ and our plans to accelerate our direct-to-consumer business, we are strategically positioning our Company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value. Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it. Our creative teams will concentrate on what they do best—making world-class, franchise-based content—while our newly centralized global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetizing that content in the most optimal way across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the coming Star international streaming service.
According to CNBC, this shift was partially made after Dan Loeb, whose company Third Point Capital is one of Disney’s biggest shareholders, wrote to Bob Chapek to ask him to divert the company’s annual $3 billion dividend to support creating new content for Disney+. So, what the hell does it all mean? Well, it’s easy to see that Disney is focusing its attentions on the one area that has actually experienced growth during the pandemic, but Chapek’s statement hints that they’ll be experimenting with new ways of monetizing that content and making these releases an event rather than something that just simply drops into our laps on a Friday. We’ll likely hear more as this new restructuring takes shape.