Walt Disney to merge interactive and consumer products divisions

Walt Disney plans to merge its interactive and consumer products divisions in response to "changing consumer preferences in a marketplace increasingly influenced by technology," the entertainment giant said in a statement on Monday.

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, as the new unit would be named would report financial results as a combined division starting in fiscal 2016, which starts September.

It would be run by Leslie Ferraro, who last month was named president of Disney Consumer Products; and Jimmy Pitaro, who had led Disney Interactive since 2010. They would be co-chairs of the new division. According to a a company representative, the realignment would not lead to any layoffs.

Established in 2008, Disney Interactive, ran up losses of over $200 million a year between 2008 and 2012. The unit also parted company with co-president John Pleasants in November 2013.

The release of the video game "Disney Infinity" in summer 2013 changed the fortunes of the division. The game, which involved a development outlay of about $100 million proved to be a major hit and was followed up by a second edition that was released last year.

Disney Interactive posted profits in 2014, generating operating income of $116 million after losing $87 million a year earlier.

According to commentators, the restructuring reflected the growing overlap between the two divisions.

Last year, for instance saw Disney Consumer Products introduce a several digital offerings, including ''Star Wars Journeys,'' billed as app-based storybooks; a line of mobile learning apps called Imagicademy; and Playmation, a toy line that used wireless systems, motion sensors and wearable technology.

However, early results had been mixed and  Imagicademy revenue had so far been meagre according to data from the analytics firm App Annie - signalling that the division could benefit from closer integration with the technology experts at Disney Interactive.

The restructuring, would see some employees take up new roles, particularly in areas like finance, business development and human resources.