The television industry has focused intensely on the transition to streaming in recent years, but that doesn’t mean the linear side is being ignored or neglected.
That was the message from Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, the entity that oversees all TV and film distribution and monetization within the Disney empire. Daniel was the keynote speaker diversity‘s Entertainment and Technology Summit at 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, presented by City National Bank.
“We’ve always focused internally on the diversity of platforms we’re on [Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution], or the variety of experiential touchpoints that we at The Walt Disney Company have with consumers—that’s no less a priority today than it has ever been. And we bind these organizations together in such a way that, again, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said.
“Nevertheless, if you look historically at what the Walt Disney Company has done, we have outperformed and maybe even led those industries [changes] that can happen in the industries we serve,” he added in his keynote conversation with Cynthia Littleton. diversity is co-editor.
ESPN has made headlines lately as Disney has faced some pressure from investors to consider a sale or spin-off of its sports powerhouse while the traditional pay-TV ecosystem feels the pain of cable cutting. But ESPN is still a big part of Disney’s business and also remains the most-watched cable channel. Daniel acknowledged that there will be long-term difficult sales discussions with ESPN’s outside cable partners. But the notion that Disney is abandoning its linear channels — from FX to Disney Channel to Freeform — is wrong, he said.
A prime example of how well Disney is bringing its linear and streaming assets together is new FX drama series The Old Man. The detective drama, starring Jeff Bridges, premiered June 16 on FX’s linear channel and was available to stream on Hulu after midnight. The later episodes will also follow the same “non-cannibalistic” windowing process, he said.
“We’re actually reaching more segments of the audience than we would otherwise have with just a streaming or linear component. And that’s the key thing about DMED, we’re able to look at all of these platforms and not at the expense of another,” said Daniel. “Basically, we will drive streaming growth. We have our goals, we will achieve those goals. But we can also achieve enormous success in networks and in the theatre.”
Daniel was promoted to his current position in October 2020 as part of Disney’s massive restructuring of operations into two main units: DMED for content and Disney Parks, Theme Park Experiences and Products, Cruises and Consumer Goods. Daniel outlined his journey through the mouse over the past two decades as he explained how he first connected with Bob Chapek, who was a department head and now CEO.
Daniel made his way through the corporate strategy and business development teams. He worked at Chapek in Sales and Consumer Goods before joining Walt Disney Imagineering in 2017 as Operations Manager. This job was the best preparation for managing the significant revenue-generating responsibilities he holds today, Daniel said.
It was invaluable to be “in one of the most creative Walt Disney Company organizations in the world and really get a feel for the passion and heart that goes into creating things that have entertained people and driven them for 50 years.” the next 50 will be entertained,” he said.
Given the split between DMED and the content production groups led by Dana Walden on the TV side and Alan Bergman on the film side, Daniel was given a strong warning on how green lights and cancellations would be handled within Disney in the new structure. Daniel said it’s a collaborative process, drawing on data and insights and the needs of the many individual platforms Disney has, linear and streaming.
Daniel noted that he found himself in a similar situation when running the business side of the Imagineering group.
“This experience gave me more insight and preparation for this role than I would have thought given that I was in a creative group and another group was making the business decisions,” he said.
“I learned a lot about a creative process,” added Daniel. “But I could also understand what it’s like to have no control over the final business decisions. So you fast-forward to this new organization that will be two years old next month… There are incredibly talented content teams building things that entertain people around the world. I feel like I understand a bit what it’s like to have spent time in a creative organization without that ultimate authority, where I know collaboration is absolutely crucial. You cannot run a business without a real appreciation and connection to this creative group.”
https://variety.com/2022/film/news/kareem-daniel-disney-hulu-espn-streaming-1235374205/ Disney’s Kareem Daniel talks ESPN, Hulu, and streaming vs. Linear Biz