The Walt Disney Company Announces New Organizational Structure for its Media Businesses with Fox Executives Involved
Disney has revealed what its post-acquisition landscape will look like. 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice and Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden are both moving over to Disney in new roles. John Landgraf will serve as Chairman of FX Networks and Productions and his division will receive additional financial resources. Gary E. Knell to serve as chairman of National Geographic Partners.
"The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us, upon completion of the acquisition, this new structure positions these proven leaders to help drive maximum value from a greatly enhanced portfolio of incredible brands and businesses." - Disney CEO Bob Iger
Let's break down Rice and Walden's new positions, and who reports to them:
Peter Rice (Chairman, Walt Disney Television and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks)
Rice will be reporting directly to Mr. Iger. The new portfolio under Rice will include ABC Television Network, ABC Studios, ABC Owned Television Stations, Group, Disney Channel, Freeform, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Networks, and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, and the National Geographic channels.
Peter Rice and Dana Walden will be overseeing the portfolio which is currently managed by Ben Sherwood. Sherwood is staying with Disney until the transition is complete.
“I love making television and have been fortunate to work with incredibly talented executives and storytellers. Disney is the world’s preeminent creative company, and I look forward to working for Bob, and with his exceptional leadership team, to build on that amazing legacy. I also want to thank Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch for the privilege of working on such a wide array of movies and television, both entertainment and sports. It has been a wonderful thirty years,” Mr. Rice said.
Rice will assume his role once the deal is completed of course.
Reporting to Mr. Rice will be:
Dana Walden, Chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment
John Landgraf, Chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions
Gary E. Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners
Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide
James Goldston, President, ABC News
Dana Walden (Chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment)
Ms. Walden's portfolio will include Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, as well as ABC Entertainment, ABC Studios, Freeform and the ABC Owned Television Stations Group. Walden is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Television Group.
Here is who will be reporting directly to Ms. Walden:
Channing Dungey, President, ABC Entertainment
Patrick Moran, President, ABC Studios
Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman, Presidents of Twentieth Century Fox Television
Bert Salke, President, Fox 21 Television Studios
Tom Ascheim, President, Freeform
Wendy McMahon, President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group
Well, Bob Iger certainly wasn't lying during the quarter three call when he said he really like Fox's executive talent. Now that the new organizational structure is in place it will be fascinating to see it in action. He also had additional thoughts on the departure of Ben Sherwood.
“I want to personally thank Ben Sherwood for his years of service at ABC and Disney. Ben has been a valued colleague, and I deeply appreciate his many contributions and insights, as well as his professionalism and cooperation in this transition,” Mr. Iger said.
Disney is going to pump more money into FX. So Landgraf has the ability to keep up with rivals like HBO and Netflix. Will the FX financial bet help Disney create more prestige programming for its Direct-to-Consumer services?
National Geographic will also get more financial resources. As Iger praised the group and said it has massive appeal in the eco-tourism space. National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe turned down an offer from New Fox to stay with Nat Geo.
Probably the most interesting shakeup in this is Walden trading in FOX for ABC (which to clarify it's not like she had a choice, I'd rather go to Disney than New Fox ). Also that ABC President Channing Dungey has to report to her. Even though it is rumored that Dungey has been offered some high profile gigs, including one from Shonda Rimes' Netflix based company.
Disney's restructuring is off to a start. Will the $73.1 billion deal be enough to make Disney a formidable streaming threat? Will the deal pay off? For Disney's sake, they hope the blend of new executives and assets will lead them into a new era.