Disney Returns Ad Sales Division to Media Networks Group Following Kevin Mayer’s Exit

Media distribution team also moving from company’s DTCI segment, effective immediately

rita ferro and justin connoly
Rita Ferro and Justin Connolly's teams are moving from DTCI to Disney's Media Networks group. Disney
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Key insight:

Disney streaming head Kevin Mayer’s surprise exit on Monday to become TikTok’s new CEO continues to have ripple effects at his now former company.

Following the departure of Mayer, who had been chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International (DTCI) segment since 2018, the company has opted to shift its ad sales and media distribution divisions from DTCI to its Media Networks group, effective immediately.

That means Rita Ferro, president of Disney advertising sales, and Justin Connolly, president of media distribution, will now both report to Peter Rice and Jimmy Pitaro, the co-chairs of Disney Media Networks, according to a Disney spokesperson. No staffing changes are planned as a result of this organizational move.

The shift—which returns the ad sales team to Disney’s Media Networks segment after a two-year hiatus—is a direct result of Mayer’s departure and had not been in the works prior to his exit. But the majority of both teams’ businesses support Disney’s linear networks, though Ferro had recently added Hulu ad sales to her purview following the January reorganization that saw Hulu CEO Randy Freer exit the company. (Hulu’s former ad sales chief, Peter Naylor, departed for Snap last month.)

This will also have no effect on Disney’s virtual upfront roadshows, the seven tailored agency presentations—which begin next Tuesday—that the company is holding in lieu of a single livestreamed event. Mayer had not been scheduled to take part in those presentations, according to a spokesperson.

Last July, Disney combined all of its media sales and TV channel distribution operations into a single unit, led by Connolly.

But Ferro had been reporting to Mayer since March 2018, when Disney’s ad sales units moved from the Media Networks group to the newly formed DTCI. That was a year before the Disney-Fox deal closed, and six months before Ferro was named president of Disney ad sales, and assumed oversight of ESPN’s portfolio as well.

Mayer leaves Disney after the successful debut of Disney+, which surpassed 54 million subscribers in five months. Disney’s streaming division is the only segment of the company that is seeing growth amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has hamstrung its normally lucrative parks, travel and retail businesses.

On Monday, longtime Disney vet Rebecca Campbell was tapped to succeed Mayer as chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International, but she won’t oversee Ferro and Connolly’s teams.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.