Disney’s new, streaming era organization is getting more tweaks and upgrades. Today the company announced that Justin Connolly, who ran the affiliate sales team handling cable channel deals with cable and satellite operators, will also oversee licensing of programs to TV networks and streaming services.
That role was previously filled by Janice Marinelli, who departed the company earlier this week. The fact that a single executive is now overseeing two teams gives of sense of where we are in the direct-to-consumer era. Both affiliate sales and licensing are pillars of Disney’s business, contributing a total of $16.8 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year, or 28% of the total. But the cable business is in decline and Disney is scaling back on program sales almost entirely in favor of Disney+.
The real story, though, is the growing power of Direct to Consumer chief Kevin Mayer. Connolly, who previously reported to ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro, will now report to Mayer who also has control of advertising. Does it make sense for the business of selling programs and making deals with cable distributors to be moved away from the group that oversees the channels and makes the programs? Bob Iger certainly thinks so—and shows yet again how much power Disney is giving to Mayer and his DTC group.