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Walt Disney restructures entertainment businesses to boost streaming

Walt Disney restructures entertainment businesses to boost streaming

(Reuters) – Walt Disney Co DIS.N said on Monday it had restructured its media and entertainment businesses to accelerate growth of Disney+ and other streaming services as consumers increasingly gravitate to digital viewing.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Walt Disney Company is displayed above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the closing bell as the market takes a significant dip in New York, U.S., February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Under the reorganization, Disney will separate the development and production of programming from distribution to be more responsive to consumer demands.

The move came days after activist investor Daniel Loeb of hedge fund Third Point urged Disney to forgo a dividend payment and double its programming investment in streaming.

Disney shares rose nearly 5% in after-hours trading to $130.76.

The media and theme parks company launched the Disney+ streaming service in November 2019. It has exceeded its own targets by drawing more than 100 million streaming customers worldwide to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

Streaming pioneer Netflix Inc NFLX.O boasts 193 million, but has built that customer base over the 13 years.

Loeb had argued that Disney needed to cut its dividend to increase spending on new TV shows and movies to sign up new customers more quickly.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek, in an interview with CNBC, said the company is planning to increase investments in content but he did not say if it was prepared to cut its dividend to finance the strategy.

“Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it,” Chapek, who took the company’s top job in February, said in a separate statement.

In a statement on Monday, Loeb welcomed

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