Bob Iger on ABC: We Want More Homegrown Hits

Disney chief says Alphabet needs to strengthen its primetime sked with 'programming we own'

With the upfronts looming next week and ABC in last place among the coveted 18-49 demo, Disney chief Bob Iger has one request for network: “We could use a few more new hits and hits that we own.”

Iger made the statement during a call with analysts to discuss the company’s robust second quarter results on Tuesday, in which he said the network and ABC stations “have had a tough run during the last few months.”

During the most recent second quarter, which wrapped March 30, Disney’s broadcast division, led by ABC, saw revenue decline 2% to $1.5 billion on lower ratings, although profits rose 40% to $138 million.

“There’s no real secret to it,” he said of ABC’s needs. “On the network front, we’d like a stronger primetime schedule, particularly with programming that we own.”

ABC’s president of entertainment Paul Lee ordered two dozen pilots (plus a presentation for “Once Upon a Time” spinoff revolving around Alice in Wonderland) to consider as he builds his upcoming schedule of shows. Of those orders, 18 hail from ABC Studios. ABC is expected to make its series orders on Friday in advance of Tuesday’s upfront presentation at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Among the Alphabet’s hot prospects are Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” based on the comicbook company’s spy characters, some of which were seen in “The Avengers,” the “Iron Man” franchise, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Whedon developed and directed “S.H.I.E.L.D.” after helming “The Avengers,” a $1.5 billion blockbuster at the worldwide box office.

Another drama in consideration is an oater inspired by the Disneyland roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Iger told analysts that he was high on many of the new shows in contention.

“I’ve seen the pilots and I’m more than reasonably encouraged in what I’ve seen,” he said.

ABC’s success will depend on having a team in place that “comes up with the kinds of shows that drive higher ratings and advertising revenue,” he added. Iger cited Shonda Rhimes’ ABC Studios-produced sudser “Scandal” (pictured above) which has blossomed in its second season, as the kind of “program that we own that has great potential in delivering on our investment. But we want more of them.”

More Biz

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein Denied Bail in Sex Trafficking Case

    Jeffrey Epstein, the high-living financier who partied and traveled with Hollywood stars and world leaders, has been denied bail. The multimillionaire businessman is accused of sexually abusing underage girls as young as 14 years old and collecting child pornography. Prosecutors argued successfully that Epstein’s wealth made him a serious flight risk. He faces up to [...]

  • AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior

    AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior VP, Synch & Brand Partnerships

    AWAL, Kobalt’s recorded music company, announced the hiring of Bianca Bhagat as senior vice president, synch & brand partnerships. Based in Los Angeles, she will oversee AWAL’s global synch & brand partnerships team, pursuing creative marketing opportunities for the AWAL roster, according to the announcement. Most recently with Glassnote, leading the Film and TV department [...]

  • iheartmedia logo

    iHeartMedia Stock Drops in NASDAQ Debut

    Shares of iHeartMedia, the U.S.’s biggest radio network, fell as much as 7% after they commenced trading Thursday on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. Last month, after exiting a year-long bankruptcy reorg, iHeartMedia announced it was approved for listing on NASDAQ, instead of pursuing an IPO. The company’s shares had previously been traded over-the-counter under [...]

  • Netflix Reed Hastings

    Netflix Shares Dive After Q2 Stumble: Just a Hiccup or Sign of Bigger Trouble?

    Netflix badly undershot its subscriber forecasts for the second quarter of 2019 — posting its first net U.S. customer decline since 2011 while growth slowed considerably overseas. The company added 2.7 million subs worldwide, almost half as many as the 5 million it had projected. With the big miss, Netflix shares took a predictable hit, [...]

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    At Least 33 Believed Dead in Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    UPDATED: At least 33 people are believed to have died Thursday in an arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company in Japan, shocking a nation in which extreme violence is very rare. Citing fire officials, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said Thursday night that 20 women and 12 men were killed in the blaze, as well [...]

  • Haim Saban

    Haim Saban Pledges to Invest $500 Million to Launch Music Label

    Businessman, investor and philanthropist Haim Saban, who heads the Saban Capital Group, has pledged to invest $500 million to launch a record label. Saban Music Group (SMG) will be led by music executive Gustavo Lopez and focus on “international A&R, artist development and strategically supporting a 360 model for artists,” reads a release announcing SMG, [...]

  • Street scene Sunset Boulevard at night

    In Los Angeles, Rock and Roll Fights to Save the Sunset Strip

    On a recent Saturday evening on Sunset Boulevard, just beyond the nightly caravan of European sports cars and open-air tour buses that have seen better days, the famous Tower Records building was once again bathed in the familiar red and yellow paint job of the iconic music store that once occupied its stone-brick walls. Though [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content