Disney–ABC Television Group

ABC, Inc.
Disney–ABC Television Group
Wholly owned subsidiary of Disney Media Networks
Industry Broadcast
Predecessor Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.
Founded September 20, 1996 (1996-09-20)
Headquarters Burbank, California, U.S.
Key people
Ben Sherwood (President)
Bruce Rosenblum (president of business operations)
Number of employees
7,000+ (2016)[1]
Parent Disney Media Networks
(The Walt Disney Company)
Website Official website

ABC, Inc.[2] DBA the Disney–ABC Television Group[3] (simply Disney–ABC[4]) manages all of The Walt Disney Company's Disney and ABC-branded television properties. The group includes the ABC Television Network (including ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment, and ABC News divisions), as well as Disney's 50% stake in A&E Television Networks and its 80% controlling stake in ESPN, Inc.[5] While holding the controlling stake in ESPN, Disney–ABC and ESPN operate as separate units of Disney Media Networks.[6]


In 1996, Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC[7] bringing ABC Television Network Group, CC/ABC Broadcasting Group (ABC Radio Network, eight TV and 21 radio stations), ABC Cable and International Broadcast Group, CC/ABC Publishing Group and CC/ABC Multimedia Group. The Cable and International Broadcast Group contained ownership shares of ESPN, Inc. (80%) A&E Television Networks (37.5%), Lifetime Television (50%) and its international investments. These investments included Tele-München (50%, Germany; included 20% of RTL II), Hamster Productions. (33%, France) and Scandinavian Broadcasting System (23%, Luxembourg). ESPN also had international holdings: Eurosport (33.3%, England), TV Sport (10%, France; Eurosport affiliate) and The Japan Sports Channel (20%). The Publishing Group including Fairchild Publications, Chilton Publications, multiple newspapers from a dozen dailies (including the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star) and more weeklies, and dozens more publications in the fields of farm, business and law trade journals plus LA Magazine to Institutional Investor. The Multimedia Group pursued businesses in new and emerging media technologies, including the interactive television, pay-per-view, VOD, HDTV, video cassette, Optical disc, on-line services and location-based entertainment.[8]

In 1993, DiC Animation City and Capital Cities/ABC formed a joint venture called DIC Entertainment L.P.[9] In April 1996, due to ongoing post Disney-CC/ABC merger realignment and retirement of its president, WDTT group's division were reassigned to other groups with Walt Disney Television International (including Disney Channel International and Buena Vista Television domestic syndication and Pay TV division and GMTV and Super RTL holdings) were transferred to Capital Cities/ABC.[10] In May due to the merger, ABC ended its ABC Productions division operations while keeping its boutique production companies: Victor Television, DIC Entertainment, ABC/Kane Productions and Greengrass Productions.[11] The international operations of Disney TV International and ABC Cable and International Broadcast Group were merged in June as Disney/ABC International Television.[12]

Disney had ABC Group sell various publishing companies in 1997. Chilton was sold to Reed Elsevier for $447 million and got $142 million from Euromoney Publications for Institutional Investor. While in April Knight Ridder purchased four newspapers including The Kansas City Star and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram for $1.65 billion. In August 1999, Fairchild Publications was sold to Conde Nast Publications.[13]

In late 1999, Walt Disney Television, along with other television units were transferred from The Walt Disney Studios again to Disney–ABC Television Group to merge with ABC's primetime division, ABC Entertainment, to form ABC Entertainment Group.[14][15][16]

In March 2000, ABC formed Disney Kids Network (DKN) advertising group via consolidation to sell ads for ABC's "TGIF" primetime programming, Disney's One Saturday Morning, Disney's One Too syndicated programming block, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Wonderful World of Disney and Winnie the Pooh primetime specials. DKN was placed under ABC senior vice president of sales Dan Barnathan and would also work on some ads with Radio Disney, Disney.com and Disney Adventures magazine. DKN added Toon Disney when the channel started accepting ads in September 2000.[17][18]

ABC Group chairman Robert A. Iger was named president and chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company in January 2000.[19] In 2000, with an investment by Bain Capital and Chase Capital Partners, Heyward re-purchased DIC Enterprises.[20]

In September 2002, Disney Chairman/CEO Michael Eisner outlined a proposed realignment of the ABC broadcast network day parts with the similar unit in its cable channels: ABC Saturday mornings with Disney Channels (Toon & Playhouse), ABC daytime with Soapnet and ABC prime time with ABC Family.[21] In October October 2003, ABC Family Worldwide was changed from a Disney COO directly reporting unit to being with in the ABC Cable Networks Group run by Anne Sweeney.[22]

Disney–ABC Television Group

On April 21, 2004, Disney announced a restructuring of its Disney Media Networks division with Sweeney being named president of ABC parent Disney–ABC, and ESPN president George Bodenheimer becoming co-CEO of the division with Sweeney, as well as president of ABC Sports. This move added ABC TV Network within Disney-ABC.[23] ABC1 channel initially launched in the United Kingdom on September 27, 2004 as the first use of the ABC brand outside the US.[24] While ABC News Now was launched that year in the US on digital subchannel of 70 ABC owned & operated and affiliates.[25]

Disney spun off and merged on June 12, 2007 its ABC Radio Networks with Citadel Broadcasting into Citadel Communications while retaining its ESPN Radio and Radio Disney networks and stations and a 10-year news provider licensing agreement for ABC News Radio with Citadel for the networks.[26][27]

In February 2007, Touchstone Television was renamed ABC Television Studio as part of Disney's push to drop secondary brands like Buena Vista for Disney, ABC and ESPN.[28] ABC1 in the UK was shut down on September 26, 2007.[29]

On January 22, 2009, Disney–ABC said it would merge ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios into a new unit called ABC Entertainment Group.[30][31] That April, ABC Enterprises took an ownership stake in Hulu in exchange for online distribution license and $25 million in ABC network ad credits.[32] The Live Well Network (LWN) was launched on April 27, 2009 by ABC Owned Television Stations on the stations' subchannels[33][34][35] Late that year, A+E Networks acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services with DATG ownership increasing to 42%.[36] In November, Disney-ABC sells GMTV to ITV for $37 million.[37]

On March 24, 2012, following the dissolution of the ABC Daytime division, ABC Family Worldwide Inc. began taking operational control of Soapnet until that network was slowly discontinued for Disney Junior.[38][39] In July 2012, NBCUniversal confirmed plans to sell its 15.8% stake in A+E Networks to Disney and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, who became 50-50 partners in the joint venture.[40]

On August 21, 2013, Disney–ABC announced it will layoff 175 employees. The layoffs are expected to hit positions among technical operations as well as the unit's eight local stations.[41] On October 28, ABC News and Univision Communications launched Fusion, a Hispanic news and satire shows cable channel.[42]

In August 2014, A+E took a 10% stake in Vice Media for $250 million, then announced in April 2015 that H2 would be rebrand into the Vice channel with an indicated early 2016 launch.[43] Disney also made direct investment in Vice Media with two $200 investments in November 2015 then a week later in December for about a direct 10% to assist in funding programming.[44] ABC Family became Freeform on January 12, 2016.[45]

On April 21, 2016, Disney–ABC sold its share in Fusion to Univision.[46] In September 2016, Group President Ben Sherwood named Bruce Rosenblum, Television Academy chair and Warner Bros. TV Group's former head, to the newly created position, president of business operations, to reduce the number of direct reports from 17 to about 8. Roseblum would oversee ad sales in conjunction with channel heads, affiliate sales and marketing, engineering, digital media, global distribution, IT, research and strategy and business development. This allows Sherwood to focus on content and direct operating units that continue to directly report to him, ABC network units, cable channel units (Disney Channels Worldwide, and Freeform), ABC Studios and ABC TV Stations.[47]


ABC, Inc. DBA Disney–ABC Television Group[48] (Formerly Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.)

Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications

Unit[8][10] transferred to[10]
KCAL-TV Los Angeles sold to Young[52]
Walt Disney Television Disney Studios
Disney Television Animation
Touchstone Television
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Walt Disney Television International CC/ABC
Disney Channel International
Buena Vista Television
Super RTL
Disney Interactive
Disney TeleVentures, Inc. Disney corporate

Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications (WDTT) was a division of The Walt Disney Company. At the time Disney and Capital Cities/ABC merged, WDTT's divisions were The Disney Channel, KCAL-TV Los Angeles, Walt Disney Television, Touchstone Television and Buena Vista Home Video International, and Disney Interactive.[8]

WDTT history

On August 24, 1994 with Jeffrey Katzenberg's resignation a reorganization of Disney Company took place in which Richard Frank became head of newly formed Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications, which was split off from its filmed entertainment business, Walt Disney Motion Pictures.[53] Walt Disney Computer Software was transferred with in WDTT on December 5, 1994 as Disney Interactive.[54] In April 1996 due to ongoing post Disney-CC/ABC merger realignment and retirement of its president Dennis Hightower, WDTT group's division were reassigned to other groups with most transferred to The Walt Disney Studios or CC/ABC.[10] KCAL was sold to Young Broadcasting in May 1996 due to CC/ABC ownership of KABC-TV.[52]


  1. Guthrie, Marisa (September 14, 2016). "Disney/ABC TV's Ben Sherwood on a 'Star Wars' Series, "Mistakes" in Michael Strahan's 'Live' Exit and Bob Iger's Future". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  2. "ABC, INC. Entity Information". Corporation and Business Entity Database. New York Department of State's Division of Corporations, State Records and Uniform Commercial Code. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
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  5. Our Divisions - ESPN Careers
  6. "Our Businesses". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
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  9. Brian Lowry (July 26, 1993). "DIC Ent. formed for kids TV fare". Variety. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Roth, Iger Assume Expanded Responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company". PRNewswire. April 16, 1996. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  11. Littleton, Cynthia. (May 27, 1996) ABC folds in-house arm. (TV series production unit). Broadcasting & Cable. Access on November 13, 2013.
  12. Johnson, Debra (July 1, 1996). "Granath takes top slot at Disney/ABC International". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  13. Kuczynski, Alex (August 20, 1999). "Merger Planned for 2 Giants of Fashion Publishing". New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
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  15. Hofmeister, Sallie (July 9, 1999). "Disney Combining Network TV Operations Into One ABC Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  16. Schlosser, Joe (November 29, 1999). "A Mouse in-house". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
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  22. Romano, Allison (October 20, 2003). "Sweeney is family's new parent figure". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
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    *CD-ROM Today. 3 (2): 26. February 1995. Missing or empty |title= (help)
    *Windows Magazine. 6 (3): 42. March 1995. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

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