Disney Shifts ESPN Remote Ops, ABC News Production Ops Under DMED Technology Division as Part of Restructuring

Dave Johnson and Chris Lawson take on key leadership roles in Engineering and Operations at Disney, while Chris Calcinari and Michael Cupo also get expanded roles

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED), ESPN, and ABC News have announced a restructuring of their operations teams into a more unified global function, which will sit within the DMED Technology organization (under DMED CTO Aaron LaBerge) and support all of the company’s brands. The reorg will result in the remote operations group from ESPN and the production operations team at ABC News, joining the DMED Content Operations group, under the leadership of Chris Lawson (Sr. VP, Content Operations, who reports to LaBerge). All DMED Production Operations will now be led by Chris Calcinari and Technical Services will be led by Michael Cupo

This functional unification began last year with all US-based studio and network operations teams, as well as transmission, content preparation and packaging, and international operations functions.

As has been the case in other areas, ESPN and ABC News Production, Content and Creative teams will continue to lead content and creative decision making and set requirements. DMED’s global content operations organization will be responsible for working closely with content teams and provide the technology and operational support for studio and remote operations for all TWDC content teams, globally.

These changes also include some changes in DMED Media Engineering team – who work very closely with Content Operations, to develop solutions, identify opportunities and implement innovations in both approaches and infrastructure. Dave Johnson – who has been serving as the interim leader of DMED Media Engineering – is taking on the leadership role permanently, as DMED continues modernizing and innovating its engineering systems, infrastructure and approaches.

Under Chris Lawson, DMED Content Operations will be structure to support this as follows:

  • Production Operations – led by Chris Calcinari: DMED is combining production-and-creative-facing operations functions, across studio, remote and REMI operations, as well as news, program and traffic operations. Calcinari joins DMED Technology from ESPN, where he led Remote Operations since 2008. Calcinari and the Production Operations team will continue to have day-to-day accountability to all of Disney’s content creation partners, including the teams at ESPN (under Tina Thornton), ABC News (under Derek Medina) and across Disney’s other brands and businesses.
  • Technical Services – led by Michael Cupo: DMED is bringing together all engineering-facing operations functions, including network origination, transmission operations and media services under Michael Cupo, who takes on a new and expanded role. Cupo has worked for The Walt Disney Company for a combined 21 years across three stints, most recently leading Transmission and DMED Technology Strategic Operations.
  • Creative Services – led by Doug Levy: Doug Levy, will continue in his current remit leading production and post production Creative Services operations for clients including FX, Freeform and Disney Branded Entertainment within Content Operations.
  • Distribution Operations – led by Barrie Godwin: The Distribution Operations team under Barrie Godwin remains unchanged. Godwin and this team continue to be responsible for the consolidated asset delivery to all of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and third-party endpoints. This includes all mastering services, distribution planning, localization operations, versioning, servicing, packaging, and fulfillment.
  • Operational Analytics & BRM will be led by Holly Lutkenhouse, who takes on an expanded roll
  • Workflow Transformation will be led by Marcy Lefkovitz, who takes on an expanded role

Under Dave Johnson in DMED Media Engineering:

  • Joining Johnson’s team from ABC News are the Production Systems Technology team, the Technology and Engineering teams (with the exception of Live Desk), Audio Engineering and Washington D.C.-based technical teams.
  • Brian Kennedy will remain at ABC News, but will work closely with Johnson over the next few months during this transition.
  • Kevin Plumb continues in his key global leadership role under Johnson.

According to the company’ announcement, making these changes allows Disney to leverage the skills and knowledge from across its various segments to benefit one another and the entire company; develop, support, and operate truly global platforms and systems; and provide opportunities for its people to explore, grow, and contribute more broadly across the entire enterprise.

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