Sherwood told Variety he had been looking for a seasoned executive to help him manage the increasingly complicated business dealings that the group faces, from carriage negotiations with MVPDs to content licensing deals around the globe. He’d met with numerous candidates, but when Rosenblum’s name surfaced through a recruiter in June, the two struck a chord after a long lunch at a burger joint not far from the Disney lot.
“As we build on creative momentum across our portfolio, it has become more important than ever to establish a more efficient and effective operating structure,” Sherwood said. “With his formidable record as a skilled manager and innovative dealmaker, Bruce is a stellar addition to our team. I’m confident he will make a powerful difference as we navigate — and win — the future.”
With Rosenblum’s appointment, Sherwood’s number of direct reports will drop from 17 to “far fewer,” he told Variety.
Rosenblum’s charter at Disney/ABC will include running global distribution, affiliate sales and marketing, digital media, strategy and business development, as well as engineering, IT, and research. He will jointly run advertising sales for ABC and Disney networks (other than ESPN), working alongside execs at each business unit, Disney/ABC said.
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, ABC Studios president Patrick Moran, Disney Channels Worldwide chief Gary Marsh, and Freeform president Tom Ascheim will continue to report to Sherwood. ABC News president James Goldston and ABC O&O group president Rebecca Campbell will also continue to report to Sherwood. ABC’s Geri Wong and other ad sales chiefs will report to Rosenblum, along with their respective network chiefs.
“I have long admired the Walt Disney Company, and became impressed with Ben’s leadership of and vision for Disney/ABC over the past few years,” Rosenblum said. “While at Warner Bros., I had many successful dealings with the group, and have witnessed first-hand the intelligence and creativity in their business operations.”
The job brings Rosenblum back to a studio perch, three years after he ended a 26-year run at Warner Bros. Rosenblum rose to become the head of the studio’s prosperous television division, but was passed over for promotion to the chairman-CEO post. He quickly relocated to Legendary, where he served as president of digital and television. During his tenure Rosenblum brought Legendary into the TV production arena with such series as USA Network’s “Colony,” Netflix’s “Love,” and the upcoming ABC sitcom “Downward Dog.”
Rosenblum has served as chairman of the Television Academy since 2011. His term will end in December. With the Primetime Emmy Awards season wrapping Sunday with the live ABC telecast, the timing was right for Rosenblum to start his new Disney/ABC gig on Monday.
Rosenblum emphasized that he has long admired Disney and its growth trajectory during the past decade that has turned it into the world’s largest entertainment company. After announcing the appointment on Friday morning, Rosenblum said he was happy to be heading back to work in Burbank, albeit on a different studio lot.
“I used to drive past this lot and looking longingly at it,” Rosenblum said.