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Investors Should Love Walt Disney's Latest Move

By Daniel Sparks – Oct 14, 2020 at 7:01AM

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Management is accelerating its streaming efforts.

Walt Disney (DIS -0.15%) made a surprising move this week that sent its stock surging higher. The media giant announced a reorganization of its business that will accelerate its transition from traditional television to streaming.

The reorganization importantly separates its content creation teams from a new unit focused solely on distributing and monetizing its media, making Disney more nimble as it doubles down on its direct-to-consumer strategy.

This change sets up Disney to invest more aggressively in its greatest opportunities -- a narrative investors should love.

Hands shaped like a viewfinder or frame around a digital player screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's all about streaming

Disney's new business structure reflects "the tremendous success achieved to date in the company's direct-to-consumer business and [will] further accelerate its DTC strategy," Disney said in a press release on Monday.

The new corporate structure will rest on the foundation of a new centralized unit called media and entertainment distribution. The primary emphasis there will be on distribution and monetization activities, including sales and ads. This unit "will "have sole [profit-and-loss] accountability for Disney's media and entertainment businesses," the press release said.

Disney's content creation engine will be divided into three groups, creating content for sports, traditional TV, and powerhouse franchises such as Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. The primary focus of content creation under this new structure, however, will be streaming services.

Big opportunities

Disney has good reason to accelerate its efforts to grow its streaming business. In the company's third quarter of fiscal 2020, Disney+ subscribers hit 57.5 million, up from 33.5 million just three months earlier. Further, Disney's Hulu subscribers increased from 32.1 million to 35.5 million over this same period.

While the media giant's flagship Disney+ service often gets the most media attention, this new structure will also help Disney ramp up its efforts in other streaming services where it benefits from fast-growing connected-TV ad businesses. Hulu's Live TV subscribers, which see ads on some content, were up 55% year over year in Disney's most recent quarter. This was much faster growth than Hulu's subscription video on demand service saw; SVOD-only subscribers increased just 25% year over year.

Disney Hulu XP logo.

Image source: Walt Disney.

Disney's new distribution and monetization unit will have greater agility to capitalize on opportunities for growing its CTV business -- an area that Disney seems to have been prioritizing. On Oct. 1, Disney launched the Magnite (MGNI 1.40%)-powered Disney Hulu XP platform -- a unified storefront for digital ads across Hulu and Disney's other TV networks.

Investors will get more insight into Disney's recent progress in streaming and its plans to accelerate these efforts when the company reports its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Nov. 12. 

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Magnite, Inc. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Magnite, Inc and Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short October 2020 $125 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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