Disney Puts Hulu Executive in Charge of ABC Entertainment

Walt Disney Co. named a new executive to oversee programming at ABC and eliminated one of its three TV studios as part of a push to streamline and focus on online video.

Disney Puts Hulu Executive in Charge of ABC Entertainment

Craig Erwich, who has headed original productions at Hulu, will also be given the title of president of entertainment at ABC, Disney said on Tuesday. In his six years at Hulu, Erwich helped create hits such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Little Fires Everywhere.”

The company will now operate two TV studios, 20th Television and ABC Signature. Touchstone, a unit previously called Fox 21 that it acquired last year, will be disbanded.

Karey Burke, who served as president of entertainment at the company’s ABC broadcast network, will take over as president of 20th Television. Bert Salke, who ran Touchstone, is leaving the company to produce shows, including a deal with Disney.

Disney, like other media giants, has been shaking up its TV business to cope with consumers switching en masse to online and on-demand viewing -- rather than traditional networks.

“Our industry has been altered forever, and we are reorganizing to position ourselves strongly for the future and create an even better experience for our creative partners,” Dana Walden, the chairman of Disney’s television business, said in a memo to staff.

The company has spent much of the past few months reorganizing its TV operations after the appointment of Bob Chapek as chief executive officer in February. It also continues to digest the $71 billion acquisition of Fox completed last year.

The Fox deal made Disney a powerhouse in TV that produced shows ranging from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Homeland,” sometimes for its own channels and sometimes for other networks. The acquisition created redundancies, however, and many executives, particularly on the Fox side, looked to expand their roles.

The reorganizations over the past two months have focused on encouraging executives to produce content for both traditional networks, like ABC, and for streaming services, such as Hulu. Erwich’s dual role at those two outlets underscores that shift.

Shareholders will get an additional look at Disney’s plans at an investor day scheduled for Dec. 10.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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