The morning after Walt Disney Co.’s epic Investor Day event, which saw every entertainment component of the media giant throw its support behind streaming video, i.e. Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Star, Wall Street responded, sending shares to a record high.
Disney’s stock was up about 14% in Dec. 11 midmorning trading at $176 per share as of 9 a.m. PST. The company now has a market cap of almost $314 billion.
Amid the avalanche of content news on the Dec. 10 event, Disney said it would raise Disney+ subscription pricing by $1 next March, in addition to increasing European pricing by €2 to €8. The company touted more than 137 million paid subscribers through Dec. 2 via Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
Notably, of the 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers, 30% (26.8 million) originate in India, where Disney owns and operates Disney Hotstar and pending Star and Star+ general entertainment streaming services. Disney+ Hotstar launched April 3 in India featuring live cricket matches — a national sport — in addition to more than 17,000 hours of content in seven languages.
“We are uniquely positioned for India because of the rapidly growing middle class and their purchasing power,” Rebecca Campbell, chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer, said on the Investor Day webcast.
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.
With the departure of Kevin Mayer to TikTok, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has named longtime colleague Rebecca Campbell chairman of the media giant’s Direct-to-Consumer & International business unit. Separately, Josh D’Amaro has been named chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
In her new role, Campbell will help launch flagship subscription streaming platform Disney+ in Japan, with further bows planned in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
“Our company is very fortunate to have a deep bench of talent and we’re extremely pleased to welcome these two exceptionally qualified Disney veterans to our senior management team,” Chapek said in a statement. “Both Josh and Rebecca have more than two decades of leadership experience with the company, a keen understanding of our brands and businesses, and a shared passion and vision for delivering extraordinary entertainment and one-of-a-kind experiences.”
A 23-year Disney executive, Campbell since 2017 has worked closely with Chapek as president of Disney Resort, including Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Before that, Campbell led the Magical Kingdom’s European, Middle East and Africa operations.
Since launching last November, Disney+ has generated more than 54 million subscriptions.
D’Amaro, who most recently served as president of Walt Disney World Resort, succeeds Chapek as chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. In his new role, D’Amaro will attempt to jumpstart Disney’s shuttered travel and leisure businesses, which include six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a cruise line; a vacation ownership program; and a guided family adventure business.
Walt Disney World Orlando is re-opening retail center Disney Springs on May 21 — 10 days after the re-opening of Shanghai Disneyland and Disneytown in China.