Disney Executives Flee Company as Disney+ Streaming Continues To Lose Billions

in Disney, Movies & TV

All of the different Disney+ titles surrounding the logo

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company has lost another one of its key players as its much-promoted streaming service fails to dominate the market as promised.

Disney+ logo on a blue gradient background.
Credit: Disney+

Disney has had a rough couple of years, financially speaking. After more than a decade of unparalleled success with Marvel Studios, the box office numbers of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023) revealed that there finally was a ceiling to the MCU. At the same time, Lucasfilm lost the company $130 million with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), and Star Wars has yet to make its money back with feature films.

But arguably, the Mouse’s biggest financial wound of the last five years has been Disney+, the streaming service that was promoted as finally displacing Netflix as the undisputed ruler of new media. But, despite its vast IP catalog and initially low subscription price, Disney+ has failed to make a profit in a fiscal year (ever) and has not even come close to justifying its $11 billion price tag.

Disney+ logo covered by falling money
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Bob Iger Furious After Disney Executives Leak Award-Winning Show, Threatens Lawsuit

As Disney’s financial problems have mounted, it has been losing high-level executives at a concerning pace. Most famously, former CEO Bob Chapek was ousted from his position amidst conflicts with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but it doesn’t end there.

In recent years, Disney has lost the former president of Walt Disney Pictures, Sean Bailey; former head of streaming, Kevin Mayer; ex-finance chief Christine McCarthy; former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn; former Disney general counsel Alan Braverman, and ex-head of communications Zenia Mucha. Now, it can add another one to that list: Disney Entertainment and ESPN chief technology officer Aaron LaBerge (per CNBC).

The new logo for ESPN Bet, the sports gambling service
Credit: ESPN

Reportedly, Aaron LaBerge is leaving Disney for “personal reasons” and immediately taking a new position as chief technology officer of Penn Entertainment, which notably owns ESPN Bet. LaBerge will stay at Disney through June before moving to Penn Entertainment, which has been heavily partnering with the Mouse for its controversial push into sports betting.

Related: Powerful Disney Executive Working Behind Scenes To Replace Bob Iger

Behind the scenes, Aaron LaBerge has been a key figure in the rising prominence of Disney streaming services, including  Disney+ and ESPN+. In his decades with the company, the technology officer has been a loud voice for the development of streaming as a tentpole for Disney, including the recent huge merger of Disney+ and Hulu services.

ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and Disney Entertainment co-Chairmen Dana Walden and Alan Bergman issued an internal memo regarding the departure of Aaron LaBerge, saying:

“We want to thank Aaron for the contributions he has made and the leadership he has provided at Disney over his 20 years. It is a silver lining that he will continue to help Disney and ESPN win as he transitions to a role at PENN Entertainment — where he will be a key partner in the continued growth and success of ESPN BET (and the rest of their Interactive business).”

Disney CEO Bob Iger in a boardroom
Credit: Inside the Magic

It cannot be said for certain that the former chief technology officer leaving is part of a Disney+ wave of departures, but it is clear that the company is struggling to figure out what its C-suite will look like in the near future.

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