Nation & World

Disney restructures to face digital changes

Company aims to hasten its worldwide expansion

Disney logo (Dreamstime/TNS)
Disney logo (Dreamstime/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday a sweeping restructuring aimed at accelerating its global expansion during a period of upheaval for Hollywood.

The Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment giant said it would combine its international media business and its content streaming operation into one unit and create another division to house its consumer products business along with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The move — Disney’s biggest restructuring in recent years — is the latest effort by a legacy entertainment and media company to adapt to rapid changes in consumer behavior driven by digital technology.

Disney had been expected to make structural changes as it prepares to launch two streaming services and buy film and TV assets owned by 21st Century Fox — a $52.4 billion deal that requires federal regulatory approval.

Disney’s new direct-to-consumer and international unit will include the upcoming ESPN+ streaming service, which launches later this year, and a Disney-branded movie and TV streaming offering scheduled to debut in 2019.

The unit also will include video-on-demand service Hulu, in which Disney would own a controlling stake if the Fox deal is approved.

“It is a much different company today from when we were growing up,” said Jason Moser, a Motley Fool analyst. “As Disney is introducing these new direct-to-consumer offerings, they have to look at it a little bit differently. They are more in control of the delivery of content. This is really them taking more control over that experience with the consumer.”

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