Joe Earley continues to rise through the ranks at Disney.
The former Fox executive has been named president of direct-to-consumer at Disney Entertainment, effectively adding Disney+ to a remit that already included oversight of Hulu. Earley will fill the void created by Michael Paull, who served as president of direct-to-consumer at Disney Entertainment since January 2022 after joining Mouse House in late 2017. Paull leaves Disney after working for six years.
“Joe has proven to be an extraordinary asset and is uniquely positioned for this role as we lead Disney’s streaming strategy into the future,” said Alan Bergman and Dana Walden, who made the announcement Wednesday. “His vast industry experience and deep understanding of what sets our prestigious portfolio of brands apart will be essential as we build on our robust direct-to-consumer efforts. Joe is a talented, passionate leader, committed to creative excellence, and we look forward to working with him in this next chapter.”
In his new role, Earley will work with content teams across the company to expand streaming efforts, drive programming and engagement with Disney+ and Hulu. He will continue to lead Hulu until a successor is found for the role. The news comes as Disney and NBCUniversal have battled in the press over Hulu’s valuation. Disney retains a majority stake in the streamer and has until 2024 to make a decision on whether or not to buy Comcast’s stake.
Earley joined Disney in early 2019 and oversaw marketing and operations leading up to the November 2019 launch of Disney+. He added content curation duties in 2021 as the streamer expanded globally. He was named Hulu President in January 2022.
“Helping Disney+ launch has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Hulu has been inspiring and rewarding,” Earley said in a statement. “I am incredibly grateful to Dana and Alan for their trust and the opportunity to lead both incredible teams during this time of transformation and opportunity in the streaming landscape.”
The new position comes after Earley previously served more than two decades as chief operating officer at the former Fox Television Group, overseeing marketing, digital, research, planning, audience strategy and more for the group that previously owned the Fox broadcast network and the now Disney-controlled 20th television studio. After leaving Fox, Earley moved on to become president of indie studio The Jackal Group alongside former Fox exec Gail Berman.
Earley’s promotion comes two months after Walden and Bergman were given oversight of streaming and international as part of a company-wide reorganization under CEO Bob Iger that returned business decisions to creative executives and dismantled former CEO Bob Chapek’s divisive Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution division. . At the time, Paull — who had served as head of streaming and helped launch ESPN+ — was moved to reporting to Kareem Daniel. Daniel was Chapek’s top lieutenant and led the DMED division. After Disney stunned the industry by recruiting Iger back to the CEO suite to replace Chapek, Daniel was the first to leave. Earley previously reported to Paull under the Chapek and Daniel structure.
Paull’s departure comes as Disney is in the process of cutting an estimated 7,000 jobs as Iger looks to size the company up with a new management structure as part of a larger plan to create $5.5 billion in cost savings. Layoffs have already hit various parts of the company’s TV production and acquisition units, ABC News and other divisions.
It’s worth noting that Earley had worked closely with Walden for many years during the latter’s former tenure on top of 20th Television and the Fox broadcast network. Walden was one of the key executives to move to Disney a few years ago as part of the $73 billion Fox acquisition, which included the TV and movie studios.