Disney won't stop hiring freeze, company restructuring, says CEO Iger

Disney has no plans to remove its hiring freeze despite the executive leadership change, CEO Bob Iger announced at a company town hall Monday.

Per CNBC’s report, the newly returned CEO said Disney must focus on making its streaming business profitable rather than simply upping its subscriber count. The company in its fiscal fourth quarter reported nearly $1.5 billion in direct-to-consumer operating losses. As of October 1, Disney+’s total subscriber base stands at 164.2 million.

Disney’s hiring freeze was announced a few weeks ago by former CEO Bob Chapek. In an internal memo, Chapek wrote hiring will only continue for the “most critical, business-driving positions,” though he didn’t specify which departments those entailed.

Within Iger’s first week back at Disney, he informed employees Disney will begin implementing “organizational and operating changes.” Iger further announced last week that Kareem Daniel, Disney’s head of media and entertainment (and who reportedly worked closely with Chapek), would be departing the company.

Speaking at the town hall, Iger said a new company structure will take time to put in place. He added four executives will spearhead restructuring efforts: CFO Christine McCarthy, chairman of general entertainment content Dana Walden, Disney Studios head Alan Bergman and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro.

Iger cemented Disney’s cost-cutting efforts by saying the company won’t be pursuing any major acquisitions in the near future. On the content front, Disney+ in October scored global streaming rights for “Doctor Who,” joining Disney’s roster of franchises like Star Wars and Marvel.

Iger also quelled rumors about Apple looking to acquire the company, saying those reports were “pure speculation.”

Chapek had previously outlined plans to limit in-person work sessions and business travel. Iger said no changes were being made at this time to Disney’s work-from-home policy, however he noted he thinks creative businesses work best when employees work in-person.

Iger retook the helm at Disney last Sunday, less than three years after he first stepped down as CEO. Iger then said he believed “this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” in light of Disney+’s launch and the company’s Twenty-First Century Fox acquisition.

Amid Disney’s ongoing corporate restructuring, the company is gearing up to launch Disney+’s first ad-supported tier on December 8. The plan with ads will cost $7.99 per month, while the ad-free plan will increase from $7.99 to $10.99 per month.

Disney is also grappling with an antitrust lawsuit, in which YouTube TV subscribers claimed Disney has hiked prices for virtual MVPDs by requiring them to include ESPN as part of their base or cheapest plans.