Jun 10, 2022 - Economy & Business

Disney ousts content chief Peter Rice

Dana Walden (left) and Peter Rice. Photos: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic and Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Disney's chairman of general entertainment content, Peter Rice, has been ousted and replaced by his longtime colleague Dana Walden, who previously served as chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.

Why it matters: The move caught Hollywood by surprise. Both Rice and Walden came to Disney in 2019 from Fox, following Disney‘s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019.

Details: Walden will serve as chairman of Disney general entertainment content, leading the company’s original entertainment and news programming for Disney’s streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks, according to an internal announcement from Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

  • She will have oversight of ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, Disney Television Studios, Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, National Geographic Content and Onyx Collective. 
  • She will report to Chapek, effective immediately.
  • Walden had served as chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group before Fox's merger with Disney.

Between the lines: Reports suggest Rice clashed internally with some executives. In the wake of the decision, Disney's board chairman, Susan Arnold, issued a rare statement supporting Chapek's decision.

  • “The strength of The Walt Disney Company’s businesses coming out of the pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the company’s future," Arnold said.
  • "In this important time of business growth and transformation, we are committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob and his leadership team have the support and confidence of the Board,” she added.

The big picture: The elevation of Walden comes as Disney moves more aggressively into streaming. Disney has said it expects to spend $32 billion on content this year to better compete globally for streaming dominance.

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