Disney names ex-Warner Bros executive to TV business post

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co DIS.N has hired former Warner Bros. executive Bruce Rosenblum as president of business operations for the Disney/ABC Television Group, the company said on Friday.

A part of the signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank, California, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Rosenblum’s responsibilities in the newly created post will include global distribution, affiliate sales and digital media strategy for the unit, which includes the ABC broadcast network, the Disney Channels and Freeform, Disney said in a statement.

Rosenblum will start on Monday and report to Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. Rosenblum’s role does not include Disney’s ESPN sports network.

The appointment comes at a time when TV networks face challenges from a shifting media landscape and increased competition from online streaming services that attract “cord cutters,” or people who cancel cable television subscriptions.

Rosenblum said a key part of his job will be working with Disney’s consumer insights unit to expand existing businesses and develop new ones outside of traditional pay TV distributors.

“A big part of revenue growth for us will be working directly with the consumer, both from an advertising and messaging standpoint, and a distribution standpoint,” Rosenblum said in an interview.

“The assets are here. We are going to work to grow those assets and craft new ones,” he added.

The new position will free Sherwood to spend more time working on broader strategy and on the creative side of the business, Rosenblum said. Sherwood took over the Disney/ABC TV Group two years ago and has had 17 people directly reporting to him.

“It has become more important than ever to establish a more efficient and effective operating structure,” Sherwood said in a statement.

Rosenblum spent 26 years as president of Warner Bros. Television, one of the Hollywood’s largest producers of TV shows. His left there in 2013 when he was passed over for the job of running the Warner Bros. TV and film studios. Rosenblum serves as the volunteer head of the Television Academy, the group that will hand out the annual Emmy Awards on Sunday. He will give up that role in December.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler