Earlier this fall, Peter Rice, a top Walt Disney Co. executive responsible for creating television shows for the entertainment giant, gave his lieutenants a pressing message: They needed to start pumping out more new shows for Disney+, the company’s high-profile streaming service, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Last week, Disney executives publicly echoed the same message in an earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Executives blamed the pandemic for fouling up production schedules for shows and movies destined for Disney+, contributing to slowing subscriber growth at the service. But some of Disney’s struggles to fill its creative pipeline also appear to be self-inflicted, resulting from organizational changes that were supposed to make the company operate more efficiently in the new streaming era but instead have contributed to confusion and delays.
More than a dozen current and former Disney employees, along with people who work closely with the company, told The Information that part of the pipeline problems stem from a decision by Disney CEO Bob Chapek a little over a year ago to separate the teams responsible for creating content from those controlling budgets and distribution. The changes have added an extra layer of meetings and discussions before decisions can be made on everything from budgets for new projects to renewals of existing ones, they say.