Disney streaming chief leaves to become CEO of TikTok
Under Mayer’s leadership, Disney shifted its business focus from films and television to the world of streaming. The move led to Disney+ coming out of the gates fast with more than 50 million paid subscribers in a matter of months.
Mayer’s departure is a surprising one, but comes after he wasn’t chosen to replace Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO earlier this year. That job ultimately went to Bob Chapek, who served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
“I am very proud of what our extraordinarily talented Direct-to-Consumer and International team has accomplished in creating and delivering a world-class portfolio of streaming services, particularly Disney+,” Mayer said in a statement Monday.
TikTok was downloaded 315 million times from January through March, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower, surpassing any other app ever for a single quarter. TikTok now has 2 billion downloads, double its total from just 15 months ago.
Naming an American CEO from a family-friendly brand like Disney, which also has a massive China presence, could be a way to help address regulatory scrutiny.
“TikTok and its Chinese ownership have come under a lot of scrutiny over the past couple of years, and bringing in someone with a strong, major media company pedigree in the US, is probably going to be a smart move for them,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer.
Disney announced that Rebecca Campbell would be taking over for Mayer as the new head of Disney’s streaming division. Campbell most recently served as the president of the company’s Disneyland Resort in California.
Disney also named Josh D’Amaro as the new chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products unit — a spot that was left vacant by Chapek.
The one bright spot for the company has been Disney+. In just five months, the company’s streaming service racked up 50 million paid subscribers globally, a number it originally projected would take nearly four years to hit.