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Disney (NYSE: DIS) is merging its digital media unit Walt Disney Internet Group with its video gaming unit Disney Interactive Studios (DIS),…

imageDisney (NYSE: DIS) is merging its digital media unit Walt Disney Internet Group with its video gaming unit Disney Interactive Studios (DIS), into a new unit called Disney Interactive Media Group, we have learned. This new unit will be led by Steve Wadsworth, who was the president of WDIG prior to this. According to an internal memo from Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, the existing management teams will continue to run the combined group, and he will work with Graham Hopper, who was the EVP and GM at Disney Interactive Studios “to optimize for new opportunities this creates,” the memo from Iger says.

Merging the online, mobile and video gaming divisions makes strategic common sense. WDIG has been working on virtual worlds (Pirates of Carribean Online being one of them), and certainly Club Penguin is a big part of WDIG’s game portfolio. Both WDIG and DIS have been acquiring online and mobile gaming companies in China. So with all these converged gaming assets within WGID, it made sense to merge the two units. “The uniqueness of the Disney brand provides us an opportunity and an imperative to create a unified Disney-branded experience and community across all connected devices. Additionally, as console and handheld games become more connected to the Internet, and as Internet and mobile become increasingly robust destinations for games and a range of interactive entertainment, we are taking this opportunity to integrate these activities,” said Iger in the memo. Both of the divisions are major heavy-hitter major operations, and in fact WDIG hopes to hit $1 billion in revenues in fiscal 2008, according to Wadsworth. This certainly will help make the digital revenues look a lot better on the earnings calls…more than most of its big media rivals.

Full Iger memo, after the jump

“In order to take advantage of rapid advancements in interactive digital media across all platforms as well as the convergence of connected console, Internet and mobile-based games, the company is combining Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) and the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) into a new unit — Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) — effective immediately.

This new unit, which will be led by Steve Wadsworth, will have global responsibility for development and distribution of all Disney-branded interactive digital media and entertainment for all digital interactive platforms. Existing management teams will continue to run the combined group, and Steve will work with Graham Hopper and the WDIG and DIS management teams to optimize for new opportunities this creates.

Digital media is a high priority for our company, and focusing all of our Disney-branded interactive digital media efforts in one group will ensure we are best positioned to maximize this emerging and dynamic opportunity. We have made fantastic progress through the efforts of Disney Internet Group and Disney Interactive Studios, and the combined organization will maximize the experience, expertise and talent of both groups across all platforms to be a world-class interactive digital media company.

The uniqueness of the Disney brand provides us an opportunity and an imperative to create a unified Disney-branded experience and community across all connected devices. Additionally, as console and handheld games become more connected to the Internet, and as Internet and mobile become increasingly robust destinations for games and a range of interactive entertainment, we are taking this opportunity to integrate these activities.

We have strong momentum in place in all of our digital media areas, and I

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