Disney extends Iger as CEO until July 2019

Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger says the new direct-to-consumer streaming television service is a major strategic shift for the media-entertainment giant

The Walt Disney Company announced Thursday it was again extending chief executive Bob Iger's contract for another year, this time to July 2019.

Iger, whose contract was extended twice previously, telegraphed the move as possible last month in an earnings conference call.

Future leadership of Disney has been in focus since Iger's presumed successor Tom Staggs resigned last spring unexpectedly.

The job's demands include oversight of Disney's vast empire of entertainment and amusement park properties, as well as the challenge of how to best position the company as technology disrupts the entertainment business.

Disney lead director Orin Smith in a press release praised Iger, 66, as the best choice as "the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition."

Iger's record includes a string of blockbuster films, including the just-released "Beauty and the Beast," which took in a strong $175.7 million in its opening weekend.

Iger also has overseen the build out of Disney's amusement park business, including launch of a new Shanghai park last year.

A key challenge concerns future profitability for its ESPN sports network with the erosion of the traditional cable broadcast business due to competition from online and mobile options.

"Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019," Iger said in a statement.

"I am confident that Disney's best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition."

Shares of Disney rose 0.8 percent to $112.93.