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Meet the 5 Disney execs who gained power in its major reorg, including Kareem Daniel who will spearhead its ambitious streaming strategy

  • Disney announced a major reorganization on Monday that prioritizes streaming, as the pandemic continues to upend the company's parks and theatrical businesses.
  • Disney created a new Media and Entertainment Distribution Group, overseen by Kareem Daniel, 14-year Disney veteran who was most recently president of consumer products, games, and publishing.
  • Daniel will make decisions on advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney's content in his new role. 
  • The executives currently in charge of Disney's movies, TV, and sports arms — Alan Horn, Alan Bergman, Peter Rice, and Jimmy Pitaro — will continue to oversee those.
  • "There is a seismic shift happening in the marketplace, and you can either lead or follow and we chose to lead," Disney CEO Bob Chapek said of the reorganization.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Disney zeroes in on streaming amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company has elevated a new streaming chief.

As part of a major reorganization announced on Monday that could rock Hollywood, Disney veteran Kareem Daniel has been tasked with overseeing a new Media and Entertainment Distribution Group, in which he'll make decisions on advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney's content. 

Daniel has worn many Disney hats since becoming an intern during graduate school and then joining the company in 2007 in strategic planning, according to Bloomberg.

He was most recently president of consumer products, games, and publishing. In this role he oversaw Disney's efforts to create and deliver products through the Disney Store, Disney Parks, and retail partners. He also led Disney's games and interactive business, as well as Disney Publishing Worldwide.

Before that, he held a variety of roles, including president of Imagineering operations, which designs Disney's theme-park attractions.

"He is a brilliant executive who has an unbelievable objectivity when it comes to fact-based decision making," Disney CEO Bob Chapek told Bloomberg. "It perfectly positions him to be the right guy to make decisions. Not because there's a legacy of the business, but because it's right for today."

Disney has been vocal about its streaming ambitions before and after the launch of Disney Plus. The former CEO Bob Iger even called streaming Disney's "No. 1 priority" during an earnings call last February.

Nearly a year after Disney Plus' launch, that's even more true.

With more than 60 million subscribers, the service has been Disney's crown jewel this year as it reels from the devastation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced its theme parks to close for months and has delayed its theatrical movies. The company has even debuted some movies intended for theaters, including the big-budget "Mulan" remake, on Disney Plus.

So it seemed inevitable when Disney announced the reorganization, which aims to focus on Disney's streaming business that also includes Hulu and ESPN Plus, and moves its movie and TV divisions under the central group led by Daniel.

"There is a seismic shift happening in the marketplace, and you can either lead or follow and we chose to lead," Chapek said of the restructuring. 

The executives currently in charge of Disney's movies, TV, and sports arms will still oversee those.

They include:

  • Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, the cochairs of Walt Disney Studios, who will lead the movie arm.
  • Peter Rice, Disney's top TV exec, who is now the chair of general entertainment content.
  • Jimmy Pitaro, the ESPN chair, who will oversee all sports content and programming.

Rebecca Campbell, who was elevated to chair of Disney's direct-to-consumer and international division in May after former chair Kevin Mayer exited the role, will continue to oversee that group, but it will be split in two. She will report to Chapek on the international front and to Daniel in her direct-to-consumer responsibilities. 

Iger, who is still the executive chairman, will continue to be active in content creation. 

Disney isn't the only legacy-media company restructuring to put streaming as the center of its business. AT&T's WarnerMedia went through a massive reorganization in recent weeks that put all production — from Warner Bros. theatrical releases to shows that will stream on HBO Max — under the oversight of Warner Bros. studio chief Ann Sarnoff, and elevated key execs in charge of the streaming business. Comcast's NBCUniversal also combined its TV and streaming production operations this year. 

Here are the five executives who gained power as part of Disney's reorganization:

Kareem Daniel

Daniel has risen from a Disney intern to the company's top streaming exec.

In his new role leading the newly formed Media and Entertainment Distribution Group, Daniel oversees advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney's content. The new division leads the operations of Disney's streaming platforms and TV networks. He reports to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. 

Chapek hired Daniel as an intern while Daniel was a graduate student pursuing his MBA at Stanford University, according to Bloomberg. After graduating, Daniel worked at Goldman Sachs and then returned to Disney in 2007 as director of corporate strategy and business development.

"Kareem is an exceptionally talented, innovative and forward-looking leader, with a strong track record for developing and implementing successful global content distribution and commercialization strategies," Chapek said in a statement. "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."

As the president of Imagineering operations, which is responsible for designing Disney's theme-park attractions, Daniel oversaw the development of a new Disneyland Marvel-themed land expected to open soon. Daniel is a major comic-book fan and movie buff, Bloomberg said. 

He was most recently Disney's president of consumer products, games, and publishing.

Rebecca Campbell, the chair of direct-to-consumer and international, will report to Daniel in her DTC responsibilities (and to Chapek on the international side). 

Alan Horn

Horn, along with Alan Bergman, is the cochair of Walt Disney Studios, where he helps oversee the development and production of Disney movies across the studio's divisions that include Marvel Studios, Disney Animation, Pixar, and Lucasfilm (home of the "Star Wars" movies). He is also the creative chief of Walt Disney Studios.

In the reorganization, he will continue to oversee these under the new Media and Entertainment Group's movie content arm. He reports to Chapek. 

Horn joined Disney as head of Disney Studios in 2012 after 12 years with Warner Bros., where he was president and COO. He helped build the lucrative "Harry Potter" franchise, but was unexpectedly pushed out in 2011. 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Disney has debuted movies intended for theaters on Disney Plus, including "Mulan" at a premium fee. The Pixar movie "Soul" will debut on the service on December 25 at no extra cost.

Horn acknowledged the importance of Disney's streaming efforts in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year.

"Netflix and companies like Amazon represent the great disruption in our business and a seismic shift in consumer offerings and viewing patterns," Horn told THR. "The interesting thing, which is not resolved yet, is how big is the consumer appetite for these incremental services? I like our chances."

Alan Bergman

Bergman will continue to serve as cochair of Walt Disney Studios with Alan Horn, and oversee the movie content arm under Disney's new content distribution group. He reports to Chapek. 

Bergman was promoted from president of Walt Disney Studios, in which he reported to Horn, to cochair in May 2019. 

Bergman was president of Disney Studios for 14 years, from 2005 to 2019, in which he led the major acquisitions of Pixar in 2006 and Marvel in 2009. Prior to that, he was the studio's financial chief. He first joined the company in 1996.

The studio, and Hollywood's, tumultuous year amid the coronavirus pandemic comes off of a record-breaking 2019 for Disney at the box office, in which it released seven movies that grossed more than $1 billion globally, including "Avengers: Endgame," the highest-grossing movie of all time. 

 

Peter Rice

Peter Rice, who became Disney's top TV executive after joining the company through its acquisition of Fox, is now responsible for Disney's general-entertainment programming. 

As chairman of general-entertainment content, he's focusing on creating shows and other originals for Disney's streaming services, broadcast networks, and cable channels.

In the new role, Rice continues to oversee Disney's TV groups including 20th Television, ABC Signature, and Touchstone Television. The studios, which were recently consolidated and rebranded after the Fox deal, produce shows like Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere," ABC's "Grey's Anatomy, and FX's "American Horror Story."

Rice also oversees ABC News, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic. 

The new structure solidifies Rice's power over Disney's general-audience content output, and may nullify some internal strife by putting Daniel's group in charge of distribution. 

A recent report by The Information revealed a squabble between Rice and Disney's former streaming boss, Kevin Mayer, over who had the power to pick the shows that would run on Disney Plus.

Rice spent nearly three decades in various divisions of Fox before joining Disney.

Jimmy Pitaro

ESPN boss Jimmy Pitaro is overseeing all sports programming across Disney, in his new role as chairman of ESPN and sports content.

His purview now includes lives sports and sports-related programming, like news and documentaries, on ESPN and other cable networks, streaming service ESPN Plus, and broadcast network ABC. 

While the move isn't a dramatic shift for Pitaro, it does cement his efforts to leverage Disney's entire footprint, from its nascent streaming services to its decades-old theme parks, in negotiations with leagues for sports rights.

Pitaro, who has been with Disney for 10 years, took on the top job at ESPN in 2018. He brought with him a wealth of digital experience, having spent much of his tenure at Disney in leadership roles in the company's interactive group. Before that, Pitaro was vice president of media at Yahoo, and ran sports and entertainment there in an earlier position. 

At ESPN, Pitaro has been charged with maintaining the sports network's lead in cable TV while also paving a lane for its digital future.

Disney's media networks segment, which is largely driven by ESPN, brought in $25 billion in revenue last year, or 35% of Disney's overall revenue. But growth in the business has slowed in recent years amid the rise in cord-cutting.

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