Walt Disney Television

Last updated

Walt Disney Television
Type Subsidiary
Industry Broadcast and cable television
Mass media
Predecessor American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres
The old iteration of Walt Disney Television
FoundedMarch 18, 1985;37 years ago (1985-03-18)
Area served
Worldwide, mainly serving United States
Key people
  • Dana Walden (Chairwoman, DGE)
  • Bryan Noon (President, Entertainment)
Products Television channel
Television program
ServicesTelevision production and distribution
Number of employees
7,000+ (2016)
Parent Disney General Entertainment Content
(The Walt Disney Company) [1]
Website Official website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Footnotes /references
[2] [3] [4]

Walt Disney Television is an American entertainment company that oversees television content and assets owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. Forming the company's General Entertainment division, [1] it was formerly called Disney–ABC Television Group, ABC Group [5] before that, and Capital Cities/ABC initially, until Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox on March 20, 2019. Assets in the group include television networks: ABC, ABC News, Disney Channels, FX Networks, and Freeform; Disney Television Studios: ABC Signature, 20th Television and 20th Television Animation; and Hulu Originals.



ABC Group

In 1995, Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC, and initially re-branded the holding media conglomerate as ABC Group. The assets acquired at the time included 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 to the fold. The Cable and International Broadcast Group contained ownership shares of ESPN Inc. (80%), A&E Television Networks (37.5%), DIC Productions, L.P. (Limited Partnership stake), Lifetime Television (50%) and its international investments. These investments included Telephone-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. [6]

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 Channels International and Buena Vista Television domestic syndication and Pay TV division and GMTV and Super RTL holdings) were transferred to Capital Cities/ABC. [7] In May due to the merger, ABC ended its ABC Productions division operations while keeping its boutique production companies: Victor Television, DIC Productions, L.P., ABC/Kane Productions and Greengrass Productions. [8] The international operations of Disney TV International and ABC Cable and International Broadcast Group were merged in June as Disney/ABC International Television. [9]

Under Disney, ABC Group sold various publishing companies in 1997. Chilton was sold to Reed Elsevier for $447 million and received $142 million from Euromoney Publications for Institutional Investor. 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 for $650 million. [10] In March 1998, ABC placed it shares of Scandinavian Broadcasting System up for sale. [11]

In late 1999, Walt Disney Television, along with other television units, were transferred again from The Walt Disney Studios to Disney–ABC Television Group and merged with ABC's primetime division, ABC Entertainment, forming ABC Entertainment Group. [12] [13] [14] Robert A. Iger was promoted from president and chief operating officer in February 1999 to chairman of ABC Group and president of Walt Disney International. [15]

In March 2000, ABC formed the Disney Kids Network (DKN) advertising group via consolidation to sell ads for ABC's "TGIF" primetime programming, Disney's One Saturday Morning, the 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 senior vice president of sales at ABC, Dan Barnathan, and would also work on some ads with Radio Disney, Disney.com and the Disney Adventures magazine. DKN added Toon Disney when the channel started accepting ads in September 2000. [16] [17]

Iger was named president and chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company in January 2000. [18] In 2000, with an investment by Bain Capital and Chase Capital Partners, Heyward re-purchased DIC Entertainment, L.P. from Disney, making the company re-independent [19]

In September 2002, Disney Chairman/CEO Michael Eisner outlined a proposed realignment of the ABC broadcast network's daytime parts with the similar unit in its cable channels: ABC Saturday mornings with Disney Channel units (Toon & Playhouse), ABC daytime with Soapnet and ABC prime time with ABC Family. [20] In October 2003, ABC Family Worldwide was changed from a unit directly reporting to the Disney COO to a unit running within the ABC Cable Networks Group under Anne Sweeney. [21]

Disney–ABC Television Group

Former logo of Disney-ABC Television Group, used from 2013 to 2019. Disney-ABC Television Group logo.svg
Former logo of Disney–ABC Television Group, used from 2013 to 2019.

On April 21, 2004, Disney announced a restructuring of its Disney Media Networks division with Sweeney being named president of ABC parent Disney–ABC Television Group, [22] 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]

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

In February 2007, the previous iteration of Touchstone Television was renamed ABC Television Studio as part of Disney's push to drop secondary brands like Buena Vista for Disney, ABC, ESPN, and most recently, A&E Networks. [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 the 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] Later 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 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 for $3 billion (along with its previous owner Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, who became 50-50 partners in the joint venture). [40] [41]

On August 21, 2013, Disney–ABC announced it will lay off 175 employees. The layoffs are expected to hit positions among technical operations as well as the unit's eight local stations. [42] On October 28, ABC News and Univision Communications launched Fusion, a cable Hispanic news and satire channel. [43]

In August 2014, A+E took a 10% stake in Vice Media for $250 million, then announced in April 2015 that H2 would be rebranded into the Vice channel with an indicated early 2016 launch. [44] Disney also directly made two $200 investments in Vice Media in November 2015, then a week later in December, they directly invested in it again for 10% to assist in funding its programming. [45] ABC Family became Freeform on January 12, 2016. [46]

On April 21, 2016, Disney–ABC sold its share in Fusion to Univision. [47] In September 2016, the group's president Ben Sherwood named Bruce Rosenblum, Television Academy chairman and former head of Warner Bros. TV Group, as president of business operations in s the newly created position, 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. [48]

With the March 14, 2018, Disney Company reorganization, in anticipation of integrating Fox assets from a proposed acquisition, all international channels including Disney Channels have been transferred to Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, a new segment, with US channels remaining with Disney–ABC Television Group. All global sales units and distribution units have been transfer to the Disney Direct-to-Consumer segment. [49]

Walt Disney Television

On October 8, 2018, Disney announced the division would be renamed Walt Disney Television following the completion of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The acquisition added 20th Century Fox Television, FX Networks and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, and National Geographic Networks to the division. Fox television executives Peter Rice, Dana Walden, John Landgraf, and Gary Knell joined The Walt Disney Company on March 20, 2019. [50]

On March 5, 2019, Craig Hunegs was named to lead the combined Disney Television Studios — ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios. He would report to Walden. [3]

Following the completed acquisition of the 21st Century Fox assets in March 2019, Disney reorganized its television division to align various operations. On June 10, 2019, Disney announced that both Disney Television Studios and FX Entertainment would share the same casting division. [51] After assuming full control over Hulu in May 2019, Disney reorganized Hulu's reporting structure in July 2019, placing Hulu's Scripted Originals team under Walt Disney Television. Under the new structure, Hulu's SVP of Original Scripted Content would report directly to the chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. [52]

On August 10, 2020, Disney Television Studios rebranded all of its three studios, effective immediately, as part of merger terms which required dropping "Fox" from assets acquired from 21st Century Fox. 20th Century Fox Television became 20th Television; Fox 21 Television Studios became the current iteration of Touchstone Television to avoid brand confusion with Fox Corporation; and ABC Studios merged with the original incarnation of ABC Signature Studios to form the current ABC Signature. In addition, the former 20th Television – the syndication arm of 20th Century Fox TV – was folded into Disney-ABC Domestic Television. [53] In December 2020, Touchstone Television merged into 20th Television. [54]

In February 2021, Disney Television Studios established a new unit known as Walt Disney Television Alternative, which will oversee the development of non-scripted programming. The division is led by Rob Mills, the former ABC SVP of alternative series, specials and late-night. [55]



Current structure

As of September 2022, the following is the current Walt Disney Structure based on reporting structure: [56]

Disney Television Studios
ABC Entertainment, Hulu &
Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals [56]
Disney Branded Television (programming) [56]
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
Freeform and Onyx Collective [56]
FX Networks
National Geographic
Global Networks
ABC News

Former units

Transferred to Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED)

Re-organizational transfers 2018
These assets were transferred to Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International in 2018, which include: [49]


Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications

Unit [6] [7] Transferred to [7]
KCAL-TV Los AngelesSold to Young Broadcasting [61]
Walt Disney Television Walt Disney Studios
Disney Television Animation
Touchstone Television
Disney Interactive
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Walt Disney Film & Television Awards
Disney British Kids CBBC
Disney British Film Awards
Disney British Television Awards
Disney British Film & Television Awards
Disney British-American Film & Television Awards
Disney UK
Disney First Network
Disney Second Network
Disney Third Network
Walt Disney Television InternationalCC/ABC
Disney Channel International
Buena Vista Television
Super RTL
Disney TeleVenturesDisney corporate, defunct in 2000

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, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and Disney Interactive. [6]

WDTT history

On August 24, 1994, with Jeffrey Katzenberg's resignation, a reorganization of Disney took place in which Richard H. Frank became head of newly formed Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications, which was split from its filmed entertainment business, Walt Disney Studios. [62] On December 5, 1994, Walt Disney Computer Software was transferred within WDTT as Disney Interactive. [63] At the end of his contract on April 30, 1995, Frank left Disney. [64] Dennis Hightower, a marketing executive, was appointed by April 9 to succeed Frank. [65]

In April 1996, due to ongoing post-Disney-CC/ABC merger realignment and the retirement of Hightower as president, WDTT's divisions were reassigned to other groups, with most of them transferred to either The Walt Disney Studios or CC/ABC. [7] KCAL was sold to Young Broadcasting in May 1996 due to CC/ABC ownership of KABC-TV. [61]

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