Disney/ABC TV Taps Walmart, AOL Execs for New Strategic Roles

Disney/ABC Television Group has hired two execs in newly created roles: Cindy Davis, previously head of Walmart’s consumer research group, and John Frelinghuysen, formerly AOL’s head of strategy.

Both will report directly to Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC TV and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.

Frelinghuysen’s hiring as exec VP of digital media, strategy and business development represents an effort to fill in gaps left by the departure in April of Albert Cheng. Cheng, formerly Disney/ABC TV’s exec VP overseeing digital media since 2005, joined Amazon Studios as chief operating officer.

Davis, as exec VP of consumer experience, will be responsible for developing research capabilities across Disney/ABC’s multiple platforms, as well as overall consumer-experience strategy.

Frelinghuysen will oversee all aspects of strategy and business development across Disney/ABC TV’s digital and mobile portfolio. Among his duties will be defining and executing plans to monetize both new and existing short- and long-form content and distribution across multiple platforms.

“These two dynamic new leaders bring considerable talent and experience to Disney/ABC that will help drive our business forward and position us for even greater success,” Sherwood said in announcing the hires.

At Walmart, Davis had been exec VP of global customer insights and analytics since 2011. Prior to that, she was head of membership, marketing and e-commerce for Sam’s Club. Davis earlier held senior positions at direct-marketing agency Rapp Collins Worldwide, Yum Brands, Starwood Vacation Ownership and Harrah’s Entertainment/Promus Hotel.

Frelinghuysen, as AOL’s senior VP and head of strategy, played a lead role in driving M&A deals focused on new technology capabilities, including Adap.tv in programmatic video, Gravity in content personalization and Convertro in marketing attribution. In addition, he led strategic partnerships including AOL’s deal with NBCUniversal for digital and linear content production, digital distribution and ad technology. Frelinghuysen also led AOL’s recent ad-technology restructuring and partnership with Microsoft.

Prior to AOL, Frelinghuysen was a partner at consulting firm Bain & Co. in the media, entertainment and information practice, working with clients including Canada’s CBC/Radio. From 1987 to 2007, he worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the last three years as lead partner for U.S. media and entertainment where he supported private-equity buyouts of Nielsen (formerly VNU) and Clear Channel Communications (now iHeart Media).

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