Five months after Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of key Fox assets was completed, there has been a new round of layoffs in Disney’s media distribution areas that include home entertainment and TV distribution, I have learned. I hear several dozen employees, just under 60, were affected, both on Fox and Disney side. I hear among the highest-ranked among those who are leaving are Greg Drebin, EVP of Worldwide Marketing for 20th Century Fox TV Distribution; and Jennifer Chai, SVP, Worldwide Marketing & Strategy for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The news of more post-merger layoffs at Disney is not surprising in light of the company’s recent disappointing fiscal third-quarter earnings report. In it, Disney blamed the earnings miss on the integration of Fox’s entertainment assets as well as streaming investments and weak theme parks attendance.
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Between pressure to trim costs related to the merger by stepping up savings/synergies and shifting distribution patterns away from traditional channels, like home entertainment and TV distribution to direct-to-consumer, where Disney’s big financial investment has been, media distribution has been a natural target for layoffs.
The first wave of TV layoffs immediately after the Disney-Fox deal closed in March was primarily in the area of distribution, which always is vulnerable in consolidation. Mark Kaner, President of 20th Century Fox Television Distribution, a stand-alone division at Fox, and Greg Meidel, president of syndication division Twentieth Television, were the most notable departures.
A month later, a second round of layoffs hit the former Fox TV units, affecting employees related to TV ad sales in New York. The impacted executives had worked for the former Fox Networks Group division of 21st Century Fox, a large part of which moved to Disney as part of the acquisition. The highest-level executive to depart in that wave was Michael Teicher, EVP Media Sales for Twentieth Television, which was part of FNG.
Drebin, who was promoted from SVP to EVP of Worldwide Marketing last year, reported to Kaner. He managed the worldwide marketing, publicity and promotion of the studio’s series and films across all international linear channels, and global SVOD and streaming services for TCFTVD. He also oversaw the TCFTVD research division and London-based Fox Networks Group Content Distribution marketing and research divisions. Before joining Fox, Drebin was SVP of Programming and Marketing at Warner Bros. International TV Branded Services and EVP of the International Music Feed at Universal Music Group. Drebin also founded and launched ZDTV/TechTV for Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures and was head of programming and production at Viacom’s MTV.
Chai led worldwide brand marketing strategy for the entire Fox new-release theatrical slate and third-party titles.
The combined Disney-Fox TV production units have been left largely intact as the need for original content continues to grow. In the meanwhile, there have been multiple rounds of layoffs on the feature side at Disney-Fox, and a slew of people in consumer products in the combined company were let go in June.