Currently each of the networks in the Disney/ABC TV Group, which includes the ABC broadcast network and cable channels Freeform and Disney Channel, operate as individual fiefdoms. Under the new design, ad sales for all the channels will be combined under one umbrella. ESPN, which is majority owned by Disney, isn’t part of the new structure.
Disney/ABC TV Group President Ben Sherwood said the move will untangle the unit’s dealings with advertisers as well as allow the company to better leverage its assets. It comes in the wake of longtime ABC sales chief Geri Wang’s December announcement of her decision to retire in March.
“This new, simplified structure will create innovative and targeted opportunities that showcase the quality and reach of our content,” Mr. Sherwood said in a statement.
Tapped to lead the effort as president of advertising sales for Disney/ABC is Rita Ferro, who had served as executive vice president of media sales and marketing for Disney Channels Worldwide since 2010.
Ferro takes over ad sales at a pivotal time in the industry. Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are wooing viewers with commercial-free, on-demand options. Broadcast and cable television networks are struggling to find a balance between the need for commercial revenue and the risk of driving viewers away with too much clutter.
On an earnings call for Disney’s latest quarterly results on Tuesday, Chief Executive Bob Iger acknowledged the problem of advertising over-saturation.