A day after CEO Bob Chapek’s surprise ouster as CEO of The Walt Disney Co. and Bob Iger’s return to the top management spot he vacated in February 202, Chapek’s first lieutenant Kareem Daniel, also left the company after more than 10 years. His departure was announced Nov. 21 in a staff memo from Iger.
Daniel, who was chairperson of Chapek’s reorganized Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED) group, was previously head of consumer products, games and publishing at the media giant — as well as Disney’s highest-ranking black executive.
In the memo, Iger said DMED, which was in charge of Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, would be reorganized by current senior executives Dana Walden, chairman of Disney General Entertainment; Alan Bergman, chairman of Disney Studios Content; Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN; and CFO Christine McCarthy to create a new structure that he said “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
“Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses,” Iger wrote.
Industry scuttlebutt suggests Iger will dismantle other Chapek changes, which saw former amusement parks executives aligned with the now departed CEO figure prominently in the company’s direct-to-consumer business unit.
With much of its business units idled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney CEO Bob Chapek Oct. 12 announced internal restructuring that puts the focus on what is working: streaming video.
Disney is combining ad sales with distribution into a new Media and Entertainment Distribution group led by Kareem Daniel, who has served as president of consumer products, games and publishing. The media giant said the move is to put a “focus on developing and producing original content for the company’s streaming services.”
The new group will be responsible for all monetization of content — both distribution and ad sales — and will oversee operations of the Company’s streaming services. It will also have sole P&L accountability for Disney’s media and entertainment businesses.
This means that while Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, Peter Rice, and James Pitaro will continue to lead Disney’s studios, general entertainment and amusement parks, respectively, they will do so separate from streaming video.
Rebecca Campbell, who headed direct-to-consumer operations, which includes Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and pending Disney+ Hotstar, was upped to chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer. All five executives report directly to Chapek, with Campbell reporting directly to Daniel.
“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,” Chapek said.
The CEO said separating content creation from distribution would allow Disney to be more effective in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the ways they prefer it, i.e. over-the-top video, transactional VOD and PVOD.
Indeed, Disney+ had more than 60 million subscribers in August. The bundle of Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ has 105 million.
“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 the coming Star international streaming service,” Chapek said.
“It’s a tremendous privilege to work with the talented and dedicated teams that will comprise this group, and I look forward to a close collaboration with the outstanding and incredibly successful team of creative content leaders at the company, as together we build on the success we’ve already achieved in our DTC and legacy distribution business,” Daniel said in a statement.
A 14-year Disney veteran, Daniel has held leadership positions across a variety of businesses, including consumer products, games and interactive experiences, publishing, studio distribution, and Walt Disney Imagineering. Prior to that, Daniel was VP of Distribution Strategy at Walt Disney Studios, where he worked closely with the leadership in developing the company’s film content distribution strategy across multiple platforms and played a key role in the commercialization of the studio’s films.
“As we now look to rapidly grow our direct-to-consumer business, a key focus will be delivering and monetizing our great content in the most optimal way possible, and I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Kareem,” Chapek said. “His wealth of experience will enable him to effectively bring together the company’s distribution, advertising, marketing and sales functions, thereby creating a distribution powerhouse that will serve all of Disney’s media and entertainment businesses.”
Disney reports fourth-quarter (ended Sept. 30) fiscal earnings Nov. 5.