Disney is the latest traditional media company to consolidate its creation of streaming and linear content, as traditional media companies adapt to the streaming age.
Dana Walden, President of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, today unveiled a major restructuring of the television production and original content businesses under her purview. The shakeup includes Hulu Originals’ Craig Erwich adding ABC’s original content oversight in a return to broadcast 13 years after leaving the senior programming position at Fox.
He takes over the responsibilities of the president of ABC Entertainment Karey Burke who, after a successful tenure at the network, assumes an important new role as president of 20th Television, the combined operation of 20th Television and Touchstone Television as a studio focused on cable / streaming is being incorporated into 20th TV. With ABC Studios and ABC Signature merged earlier this year, Disney TV Studios is now split into two divisions, 20th TV, headed by Burke, and ABC Signature, headed by President Jonnie Davis. Davis and Burke will report to Walden.
Peter Rice unveils structure for Disney’s general entertainment division focused on creating TV content
Craig Hunegs, to whom ABC Signature and 20th TV previously reported, will step down from his role as president of Disney TV studios to become president of entertainment, Walt Disney Television, working alongside Walden across all business units. He will lead the centralized business, production, casting, and creative talent development and inclusion teams.
The merger is expected to result in layoffs, although there is no reduction in staff today.
Bert Salke, President of Touchstone TV (formerly Fox 21), will move to a multi-year global production contract with Disney Television Studios upon his return to production at Salke. During his tenure, Salke oversaw development and production of the studio, which included shows such as “Homeland”, “Genius”, “Queen of the South” and “The Hot Zone”. Additionally, along with FX Productions, the studio produced “The Americans,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Mayan MC” Touchstone was also the studio for Ryan Murphy Television, which produced “Pose,” “Ratched,” “The Politician And “American Crime Story”.
Former 20th president of television Carolyn Cassidy will remain in the studio as EVP, Development. This is the role currently occupied by Jennifer Gwartz whose future in the company is not clear.
In addition, Touchstone televisions Jane Francis also remains in place and will become EVP, Series for 20th TV. She and Cassidy will report to Burke.
As part of the massive restructuring, 20th Animation, currently a division of 20th TV, will be split into its own unit, headed by Marci Proietto. Additionally, Disney TV will launch a production unit for unscripted programming as the company seeks to ramp up production for both genres. Both divisions will be overseen by Hunegs.
Tara Duncan will continue to oversee the original programming for Freeform. She and Erwich will continue to report to Walden.
“This year has been incredibly difficult but successful. Our TV studios produce many of the top rated shows in the industry. ABC is now the # 1 entertainment network and the team at Hulu Originals have released their most successful selection of award-winning and critically-acclaimed high-performance shows yet. I am proud of our exceptional leadership team and all that we have accomplished, but the media landscape is changing and this reorganization positions us better for the future, ”said Walden. “The changes we are announcing today serve three purposes: resizing our organization, streamlining the functions of our studios and original content teams, and strengthening our partnerships with the amazing creators who have made Disney Television Studios home. . ”
Over the past two months, NBCUniversal has also consolidated its linear and streaming content teams under Susan Rovner. WarnerMedia did the same with HBO’s Casey Bloys adding oversight of the original HBO Max programming. Additionally, similar to the decision to fold Touchstone TV to 20th TV, Warner Bros. has also merged its Warner Horizon cable / streaming division into Warner Bros. TV.
It is the latest division of Disney TV to undergo a reorganization following a major streamlining of Disney’s media and entertainment business, separating content creation from distribution, which was announced in October. The Wlden unit is part of Disney’s General Entertainment division headed by Peter Rice, which unveiled its portfolio structure last month.
Walden described the changes in an internal email. Read it below:
In a few moments we will be announcing changes to the business units under my responsibility. It has been an extremely difficult year, to say the least, and I am very grateful to you for stepping up to meet challenge after challenge. Our industry has changed forever and we are reorganizing ourselves to position ourselves firmly for the future and create an even better experience for our creative partners.
The changes announced today follow the recent reorganization of The Walt Disney Company, which aimed to accelerate the growth of its direct-to-consumer business. As part of this plan, the company has separated content creation from distribution and marketing. Our role is to deliver groundbreaking original content to the best Disney + and Hulu streaming platforms, linear networks and third-party platforms; and choose the original content that will feed the Hulu Originals, ABC Entertainment and Freeform programming slates.
I am very fortunate to work with a group of leaders who are both talented executives and caring, compassionate people. Throughout planning for today’s announcement, we spent countless hours evaluating the best structure for our businesses and teams. We believe that is what we have achieved. In addition, our new streamlined structure will facilitate clarity of responsibilities and stronger partnerships with our talented colleagues within Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.
Here is how we are developing our organization:
Disney Television Studios will be merged into two studio teams led by Karey Burke and Jonnie Davis.
Karey will step down from her role as president of ABC Entertainment and become president of 20th Television, reporting to me. As part of this restructuring, the Touchstone Television banner will end and its operations will be integrated into 20th Television. Working with Karey in the newly expanded studio, Carolyn Cassidy will serve as Executive Vice President, Development; and Jane Francis is leaving Touchstone Television to become Executive Vice President, Series.
Jonnie will remain President of ABC Signature, but will now report directly to me.
Bert Salke will move from Chairman of Touchstone Television to a new multi-year global production agreement with Disney Television Studios.
Tara Duncan will remain president of Freeform and will be responsible for building a diverse roster of creators to develop series across all platforms.
Craig Erwich will continue to lead the Hulu Originals team and additionally take on the responsibilities previously held by Karey Burke at ABC Entertainment. He will now be president of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment.
Craig Hunegs will move from his role as President of Disney Television Studios to President of Entertainment for Walt Disney Television, working with me in all areas. He will lead the newly centralized business affairs, production, casting and creative talent development and inclusion teams. He will also oversee the 20th animation and a new production unit for unscripted programming.
And as previously announced, Shannon Ryan will serve as President, Content Marketing, Hulu and General Entertainment, managing creative marketing, advertising, media planning, events, talent relations and rewards strategy for the entire range. programming created in our group.
They are exceptional creative leaders who have strong relationships across our industry and have accomplished so much already. I have no doubts that they will continue to foster an environment in which creators, showrunners, producers, directors and talent can do their best, and I have no doubts that their leadership will inspire you all to do the same.
I know change is uncomfortable, but I am optimistic about our future and look forward to working with you as we embark on this new chapter together.