Disney/ABC TV President Sweeney to leave company in January; brought first movies to Apple’s iTunes Store

“Anne Sweeney, the president of Walt Disney Co’s Disney/ABC Television Group, will leave the media company in January after 18 years to pursue a career in television directing, the company said on Tuesday,” Lisa Richwine and Ronald Grover report for Reuters. “Sweeney, also co-chair of Disney Media Networks, oversees the ABC broadcast network, ABC Studios and cable networks including the Disney Channels and ABC Family.”

“The former Fox and Nickelodeon executive joined Disney in 1996 and played a key role in implementing Chief Executive Bob Iger’s digital strategy,” Richwine and Grover report. “In 2005, she led negotiations with Apple Inc that enabled Disney to become the first Hollywood studio to license its movies for download from Apple’s iTunes Store. On March 3, Disney licensed the digital rights for ESPN, the Disney Channel and other properties to satellite operator Dish Networks Inc, allowing it to become the first pay television operator to distribute TV shows online outside of a traditional TV subscription.”

“Sweeney, 56, said she wanted to explore a more creative job in the television business,” Richwine and Grover report. “‘There has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place,’ she said in a statement. ‘I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘If not now, when?” Iger, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, said he had offered Sweeney a multi-year contract extension. ‘She shocked me by saying she didn’t really want to go long, that she was thinking about her life and exploring other things,’ he said.”

Full article here.

“Last year her divisions generated $11.9 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in profit, making her the most powerful woman in Hollywood (five years running, according to THR’s annual power list),” reports The Hollywood reporter. “Under her measured watch, ABC became the first network to offer shows online (in 2005) and her division has played a big role in Disney stock hitting an all-time high of $83.65 on March 7.”

“During the course of an hourlong interview, the relaxed and confident mother of two reveals she will step down before the end of 2014, just before her current contract expires in January 2015. Sweeney also reflects on a storied career, and what she calls her ‘next act’ as a director, which she admits she hasn’t quite begun to figure out,” THR reports. “In a separate interview by phone March 9, Disney CEO Robert Iger says Sweeney’s decision to leave is hers alone, despite recent ratings troubles at ABC (Iger also pledges support for ABC chief programmer Paul Lee).”

THR reports, “Iger reveals he has begun a search for her successor, a process that is sure to set off a frenzy both within the Disney universe and beyond, and his hope to have a replacement before the end of TV’s pilot season in May.”

Sweeney’s interview combined with Iger’s comments in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good luck, Anne!

Related article:
How Apple’s iPod deal with Disney rocked TV’s world – October 9, 2006

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.