Disney Appoints Co-Presidents to Run Interactive Media


The Interactive Media Group at the Walt Disney Company (DIS) was run by one person -- Steve Wadsworth -- for more than a decade. But Wadsworth resigned late last month and Disney has elected to put two people in his place. Former Yahoo (YHOO) Media Chief Jame Pitaro will run online properties and John Pleasants will oversee online games and the social game business. Disney recently bought large social game company Playdom.

Disney may have made the decision to change leadership at its online operations too late. The company had a profit of $1.3 billion on $10 billion in revenue last quarter. Its 10-Q shows that its interactive business is tiny. It has revenue of $197 million for the quarter and an operating loss of $65 million. That makes it much smaller than the interactive operations at other large media companies like News Corp (NWS) and CBS (CBS). The Disney operation is also dwarfed by the sales of online portals like Yahoo.

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Disney will have to rely on much more than its game businesses to improve revenue. It's not among the top ten online video sites as measured by Comscore. But Fox, NBC Universal, Turner Digital, and Viacom (VIA) are. The same research service shows that the total online unique visitor audience of Disney trails most of its large media company competition.

Disney is not without assets that could have large presences online. It owns ABC and ESPN and has its own Disney.com portal. But it has failed to make headway as its competition has prospered in relative terms. It may be too hard to catch up now.