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Disney restructures its business as digital disruption shakes up the media industry

March 14,2018 21:17

"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," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and chief executive, said in a ...



By Jaclyn CosgroveĀ and Daniel Miller
Mar 14, 2018 | 9:45 AM

Disney's parks and resorts will now share a unit with the company's consumer products business. (Associated Press)

Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday that it is restructuring, combining its international media business and its streaming content into one unit and creating another unit to house its consumer products business along with Disney Parks and Resorts.

The move is the latest effort by a legacy Hollywood studio to restructure operations at a time of massive digital disruption in the traditional film and TV industry.

As Disney prepares to buy film and TV assets owned by 21st Century Fox, a $52.4-billion deal that requires federal regulatory approval, it was expected to restructure to find a way to integrate Fox's assets into Disney's business infrastructure.

Disney's new direct-to-consumer and international unit will include the upcoming Disney-branded streaming service and the planned ESPN+ streaming service, as well as Disney's stake in Hulu. Kevin Mayer, who has been Disney's chief strategy officer since 2015, was named chairman of that unit.

Bob Chapek, who most recently served as chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was named chairman of the parks, experiences and consumer products unit.

"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," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "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."

In December, Iger extended his contract by three years and is expected to retire in 2021 when his new contract ends. The restructuring plan puts into place how Iger will operate the company for the remainder of his tenure at Disney.

There has been much speculation about who will be chosen as Iger's successor. The reorganization significantly expanded the responsibilities of Mayer and Chapek.

As chairman of the new parks, experiences and consumer products business segment, Chapek will assume additional responsibility for all of Disney's consumer products operations globally, including licensing and Disney stores.

During Mayer's time at Disney, he has overseen the company's key strategic acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and most recently, its pending deal for 21st Century Fox. Before becoming senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Mayer was executive vice president for corporate strategy and business development.

The last time Disney restructured its business units was in 2015, when it merged its interactive and consumer products divisions, highlighting new technology's ability to erase boundaries between once-distinct businesses.

jaclyn.cosgrove@latimes.com

@jaclyncosgrove

UPDATES:

10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with details on the organization.

This article was originally published at 9:45 a.m.

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