You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Spotify

    Spotify Dismisses Amazon’s High-Definition Audio: ‘It’s Not a Big Differentiator’

    At the moment Amazon Music launched its new high-definition audio service on Tuesday morning, which it says offers the best streaming audio fidelity available, Spotify VP and head of investor relations Paul Vogel was speaking at Goldman Sachs’ Communicopia conference in Lower Manhattan. While Tidal and Deezer have long offered a high-fidelity service and Apple [...]

  • Randall Stephenson

    AT&T CEO Defends WarnerMedia Strategy, Addresses Activist Investor's Letter

    AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson defended the $85 billion deal for Time Warner as the right strategy for the company in response to criticism from an activist investor. Consumers are watching more content and more of that viewing is digital, so combining a telecommunications company like AT&T with a content powerhouse like WarnerMedia is [...]

  • Whistle Sports

    Whistle and OTRO Announce Multi-Year Commercial Partnership

    The entertainment and sports media company Whistle and the digital content studio OTRO have announced a multi-year commercial partnership. Together, the two companies will collaborate on programming strategy, co-creating premium original content and developing experiential activations. They will also work together on the development and monetization of content and IP formats globally. “With Whistle’s deep understanding [...]

  • Amazon Music

    Amazon Music Unveils HD: the ‘Highest Quality Audio’ for Streaming

    Amazon Music today became the first of the three major streaming services to offer high-definition sound with the launch of Amazon Music HD. According to the announcement, the service offers recordings that are encoded with FLAC (free lossless audio codec, which means they can be compressed without a loss in quality) with more than 50 [...]

  • Sony Corp USA Building Placeholder Logo

    Sony Rejects Breakup Proposal From Dan Loeb

    Sony has rejected the corporate breakup proposal that it received three months ago from activist investor Dan Loeb and his Third Point Capital. Loeb, who in June built up a $1.5 billion stake in the company, had called on Sony to divest its image-sensors business in order to focus more on entertainment, release value and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content