Disney is consolidating its media and direct-to-consumer businesses as the company focuses in on the success of its streaming services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
Under the new structure, Disney’s studios 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. Disney is promoting Kareem Daniel, who will be in charge of the new media and entertainment distribution group.
“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,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a statement. “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.”
At last count in August, Disney+ was up to 60.5 million subscribers, already pushing past the low end of its original guidance. In 2019, Disney estimated the service would have between 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024.
Some industry analysts are predicting that the service will grow well beyond the 90 million subscriber mark within the next four years. In a research note, analyst Michael Nathanson said he expects Disney+ to have 155 million worldwide subscribers – including more than 50 million domestic subscribers – by 2024.
“While it is still too early to know how the profitability forecast will play out depending on how much Disney will seek to re-invest the higher revenue run rate into programming, we can see the dramatic upside at Disney+ relative to the company’s initial guidance and our estimates after the investor day,” Nathanson wrote.
Disney also projected that Hulu will grow to between 40 million and 60 million subscribers and ESPN+ will grow to between 8 million and 12 million by 2024. MoffettNathanson now estimates that Hulu will reach 66 million subscribers and ESPN+ will reach 18 million subscribers by 2024.