Yesterday it was announced that many executives from 21st Century Fox will be moving over to Disney TV and its operation. With the departure of Ben Sherwood, it is likely that the TV business will see the biggest influx of Fox talent as they have found much success while ABC has laggard. First, let’s get to know Disney’s newest “cast members.”

What Disney Fans Need to Know About Peter Rice (Chairman, Walt Disney Television and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks):

  • Has often been named as a potential successor to Bob Iger, even before the acquisition
  • While he will not have oversight of ESPN, he does have experience with sports, which would help build the case for Disney CEO
  • Also has experience with movies including having led Fox Searchlight
  • Has been with Fox since 1989, which mirrors Bob Iger who also spent his career with one employer that was acquired by Disney

What Disney Fans Need to Know About Dana Walden (Chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment)

  • Has been with 21st Century Fox for over 20 years
  • Essentially trading oversight of the Fox network for the ABC network
  • Will also oversee Freeform

What Disney Fans Need to Know About John Landgraf (Chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions)

  • Will oversee the “edgy” content of FX
  • Expected to gain additional resources to create more content for additional offerings including Hulu
  • Has experience with direct-to-consumer service FX+

What Disney Fans Need to Know About Gary Knell (Chairman of National Geographic Partners )

  • Has been head of National Geographic since 2014
  • National Geographic has been pointed out by Bob Iger as very complimentary to Disney’s legacy
  • While oversight includes National Geographic’s travel, consumer products, and publishing business, the brand has been placed under the TV segment, perhaps as a way to provide continuity with its existing structure

What We Found Interesting:

  • Many of the Fox executives are coming in with the title of Chairman while existing Disney TV executives have the title of President such as Disney Channel head Gary Marsh and ABC News’ James Goldston. There is no way that this went unnoticed on the Disney lot
  • While cable networks such as Disney Channel, FX, and National Geographic will report to Rice, Freeform will report to Walden, essentially making it an extension of ABC and not its own segment
  • The TV business has been Fox’s bright spot while Disney has struggled. For the most part, the situation is reversed at the movie studio where Disney executives are expected to keep ahold of major oversight with the Fox talent managing the businesses that are coming over, such as Fox Searchlight
  • Despite expectations of “cost efficiencies,” the only executive that is officially departing is Ben Sherwood. While other layoffs are expected, they have yet to be announced and will probably not occur until after the new leaders had time to evaluate what the ongoing structure will be.
  • The TV segment will essentially manage programming and marketing. Most of the distribution function is now overseen by the direct-to-consumer segment run by Kevin Mayer
  • Expect many articles to pit Rice and Mayer against each other as the heir apparent for Bob Iger. This is similar to when the press put Rasulo and Staggs in a bake-off for Disney’s top job. This did not turn out as expected for either gentleman


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