As president of Disney Channel Worldwide, Rich Ross knows it takes more than offering a set of custom-made mouse ears to persuade global audiences to keep tuning in.
While Disney is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, Ross doesn’t take that connection for granted. He’s constantly traveling around the world, coordinating all efforts to help launch and maintain the net’s swath of successful programming.
Ross, who oversees 70 channels under the Disney banner that reach more than 600 million viewers, is well aware that while the Disney moniker might persuade viewers to watch a show or movie once, it’s the quality of the programming that will keep them coming back.
“I like to think that what we take from the Disney brand is the strength of the storytelling and character development,” says Ross from London, where he’s helping to launch the net’s latest original telepic, “Camp Rock.” “What Disney gives us is a chance to speak to kids’ families.”
Both in the States and around the globe, the “Hannah Montana” phenomenon (the skein is in production on its third season) continues to roll along, and series “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which premiered a year ago, is also a hit.
And then, of course, there’s the “High School Musical” franchise, which has helped create teen phenoms out of multitalents like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. The third edition hits the bigscreen on Oct. 24, with a fourth installment already in development.
Ross isn’t concerned about trying to come up with new ideas.
“J.K. Rowling did us the biggest favor in the world by writing seven ‘Harry Potter’ books,” Ross says, implying that hit franchises could go on for years. “We’re optimistic that there’s further ground.”
Recent breakthrough: “Camp Rock” is shaping up to be another “High School Musical” for Disney, with the Jonas Brothers blossoming into teen heartthrobs.
Role model: Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. “She thinks big and understands the power of research to understand opportunities.”
What’s next: “High School Musical 3” opens Oct. 24.