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Peter Distad Named CEO of Disney, Fox, WBD Sports Streamer

The media industry’s newest swing at sports finally has someone heading to the plate.

Variety reports that Peter Distad has been named to lead the sports-focused streaming-video joint venture backed by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, adding some new details to a media property — still unnamed — that has fascinated the industry and raised hopes that some of the sector’s traditional players might find a way to claw back distribution and advertising revenue as more viewers migrate away from linear TV viewing.

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“Pete is an accomplished innovator and leader who has extensive experience with launching and growing new video services,” the venture’s three backers said in a prepared statement. “We are confident he and his team will build an extremely compelling, fan-focused product for our target market.”

Distad will report to a board of directors, which will include representatives selected by each of the three owners. He will be based at offices of the joint venture set to be established in Los Angeles, along with the independent management team he will assemble.

“This is an incredible opportunity to build and grow a differentiated product that will serve passionate sports fans in the US outside of the traditional pay TV bundle,” Distad said in a statement. “I’m excited to be able to pull together the industry-leading sports content portfolios from these three companies to deliver a new best-in-class service.”

Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery raised eyebrows in February when they unveiled their intent to launch a new streaming hub that would carry all their sports offerings, which range from ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” to Fox’s MLB schedule to Warner’s share of the NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament. The idea behind the concept, according to people familiar with the matter, is that the streaming product would lure consumers who simply don’t subscribe to cable or satellite services — a growing category — and would set them up to funnel millions in monthly fees back to the corporate parents who are seeing revenue from distribution dwindle.

The proposal has skeptics. While the three companies offer the bulk of sports on TV, there are holes in their collective portfolio, including NFL games from CBS, NBC and Amazon’s Prime Video, as well as golf matches that are largely the province of CBS and NBCUniversal. Some media executives question whether the new venture can really lure young consumers and whether an unwieldy structure — one that is similar to the group that initially backed Hulu — can ultimately prevail.

In Distad, the three media companies have found a leader who is better versed in the challenges of streaming than he is in battles for sports rights or back-and-forth negotiations with sports leagues.

The executive most recently worked for a decade at Apple, where he was responsible for the business, operations and global distribution for Apple TV+. While there, he worked to expand usage of the Apple TV app and the Apple TV+ video service, as well as Apple’s distribution of games from Major League Soccer. He originally joined the company to lead product marketing for the Apple TV hardware product.

Distad previously worked at Hulu, where he was senior vice president of marketing and distribution. He was part of the original Hulu launch team, overseeing customer acquisition and retention, distribution and marketing. Prior to Hulu, Distad worked in various technology and management consulting roles, including at McKinsey & Company, Calence, now called Insight, and Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture.

His main job will likely be tied to making connections, not assembling content. The new venture will not compete with its owners to secure rights from various sports leagues and entities, according to a person familiar with the matter, nor will it create its own talk shows, documentaries or studio programs.

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