Disney-ABC

By Nicolas Claro

Company History

On January 4th, 1996, Michael Eisner and the Walt Disney Company came to an agreement with Capital Cities/ABC on a merger between the two companies, forming what is known today as Disney-ABC TV [1]. In addition to ABC Television Network, Disney-ABC owns multiple cable channels including Disney Channel Disney XD, ABC Family and ABC News, as well as a controlling stake in ESPN and an equity holding in A+E Networks.

 

Corporate

ANNE SWEENEY

Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks
President, Disney/ABC Television Group (2005-2015)

KEVIN BROCKMAN

Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group

REBECCA CAMPBELL

President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group

PAUL LEE

President, ABC Entertainment Group

GARY MARSH

President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide

BEN SHERWOOD

Co-President, Disney/ABC Television Group (2010-2015),

Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks
President, Disney/ABC Television Group (2015-)

 [2]

 

Q1 EARNINGS

The Walt Disney Company’s first quarter of the fiscal year ended on December 28, 2013. Since the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year, The Walt Disney Company’s media networks have seen a 4% increase in revenue, and an operating income increase of nearly 20%. However, the company saw a decrease of almost $85 million in income, due in large part to contractual rate increases to Modern Family and other long-tenured shows on the network. [3]

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 2.51.16 PM

 

PROGRAMMING

The cast and crew of Modern Family winning their fourth Emmy in four years. [4]

Disney-ABC has done a very fine job of diversifying their TV offerings, broadcasting programs for every sort of viewer imaginable. The company’s two most popular offerings are 4-time Emmy winner Modern Family [4] and the company’s longest running primetime drama, Grey’s Anatomy. In addition, ABC has created successful shows based on existing third-party content, such as Once Upon a Time and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC also airs a large number of successful unscripted shows, such as The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars, talk-shows in both the morning (The View) and late-night (Jimmy Kimmel Live!), live college football and NBA games, and national news shows such as Good Morning America.

Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes (left) and the show’s star Kerry Washington. Rhimes also created ABC’s long running Grey’s Anatomy. [5]

ABC Family and the various Disney channels offer popular youth-oriented series such as Pretty Little Liars and the cartoon Gravity Falls.

In this upcoming season, Disney-ABC plans to bolster its broadcast schedule even further by collaborating with well-respected directors and producers such as David O. Russell and Bryan Singer on the shows The Club [6]  and Black Box [7] , respectively.

 

Director Bryan Singer, well known for his directorial work on the X-Men films, is bringing a show to ABC this year. [8]

New King of Late Night?

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel (Left) and NBC’s Jimmy Fallon (Right) [9]

On April 3, 2014, Late Night host David Letterman announced his retirement from the show, and from late-night TV in 2015. Stephen Colbert will replace him on CBS in the same time slot after his departure. [10] With David Letterman’s retirement in 2015, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel will have the longest active run of late night hosting on broadcast TV with a consecutive 11 years on the air. Along with Colbert, Kimmel has already begun competing with the recently appointed Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon on NBC, who’s show shares a timeslot with Kimmel.

So far, among the two shows, The Tonight Show has dominated in TV ratings. However, Jimmy Kimmel Live is fast on Fallon’s heels in the digital department. After a stellar debut week (avg 6.2 million viewers), Fallon’s ratings have come back to Earth (avg 1.8 million viewers in its 2nd week). A report from Nielsen “SocialGuide”’s data, the number of impressions on Twitter for each show are comparable, and Kimmel’s uptick in viewership means that the margin between the two shows is closer than you think. These two talk-show stalwarts look to be set to compete for years to come, and ready to take on all challengers. [11].

 

The End of an Era?

Will this Aereo antennae (left) be the end of TV as we know it? [12]

On February 14, 2012, a company called Aereo created a product that was designed, in their eyes, to be the future of television. Aereo created a mini-sized antennae that effectively replaced a cable box and allowed consumers to “break free” from cable companies [12], all for a very affordable price of $80 a year. However, by doing so, Aereo was breaking many rules by not paying retransmission fees to the networks it carried, something that the cable providers are required to do. As such, cable companies swarmed Aereo with suits and injunctions within months, but to no avail [13]. 2+ years later, Aereo is still operational, and now more faces have joined in the fight against them, including ABC.

Aereo founder Chet Kanojia [15]

Specifically, their case against Aereo is set to go to Supreme Court review on April 22, 2014, and will likely be resolved by the end of June. If they lose, Aereo could be a signal of what is to come, with other startups following suit, and ducking retransmission fees. However, even if the networks win this battle, has the issue gained enough traction that it has gone down an irreversible path? Many Aereo subscribers, and consumers fed up with their cable companies, are embracing this new technology and championing it as the next big thing. Nobody knows just how this case will play out, but everyone knows that the repercussions will be massive [15][14]

 

Fighting Fire with Fire

Scandal’s growing social media numbers

Scandal’s growing social media numbers [16]

Recent advances in broadcast technology have seriously hindered TV’s chances at remaining a top broadcast medium in the past few years. Internet piracy, DVR and online streaming services have all impeded on the television’s reign atop the media market. However, it seems that ABC has found a way to turn the tables and use these new developments to their advantage.

The best example of this is ABC’s smash hit show Scandal. ABC has allowed the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, to run rampant on social media, and she does so with finesse. Her constant involvement and interaction with fans throughout the show’s run has led to a massive social media following for everyone from Rhimes, to the show’s star, Kerry Washington, to Scandal’s official social media accounts.

To show just how astronomical its rise has been, take Scandal’s social media growth from its premiere up to the third season finale on April 17, 2014. At the former, Scandal had about 500,000 connections on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube combined. As of the third season finale, Scandal has 1.4 million views on its official Youtube page, 2.6 million followers on Twitter and almost 5 million fans on Facebook. As you would expect, Scandal’s most popular demographic is in the 18-49 range, who – not so coincidentally – are the demographic most present on social media networks [16].

Works Cited

[1] THE MEDIA BUSINESS;Disney and ABC Shareholders Solidly Approve Merger Deal

[2] All portraits courtesy of disneyabctv.com

[3] THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY REPORTS FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS FOR FISCAL 2014

[4] Modern Family – The Television Academy

[5] girltalkhq – ‘Scandal’ & ‘Greys Anatomy’ Creator Shonda Rhimes To Receive Diversity Award

[6] Deadline – Soapy Drama From David O. Russell & Susannah Grant Gets ABC Series Order

[7] Deadline – Bryan Singer To Direct & Exec Produce CBS Series ‘Battle Creek’ From Vince Gilligan & David Shore

[8] IMDB – Bryan Singer photos

[9] tvovermind – Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Agree To Play Nice

[10] CBSNews – Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman on “Late Show”

[11] thewrap.com – Jimmy Fallon vs. Jimmy Kimmel: The New Late Night Fight, by the Numbers

[12] “Love is in the Aereo” – Aereo.com press release

[13] “Aereo Prevails” – Aereo.com press release

[14] USAToday – Supreme Court case could test future of broadcast TV

[15] Fortune – What happens if broadcasters lose the Aereo case?

[16] How Social Media Helps Drive ABC’s ‘Scandal’

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