Burbank, California – Anne Sweeney, who oversaw 18 years of tremendous growth and success of Disney’s global entertainment and news properties and who helped shepherd the television industry into the digital age, announced on March 11 that she would be departing The Walt Disney Company in January 2015 to pursue a career in Television Directing. Sweeney, who joined the company in 1996, is currently co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.
In commenting on her decision, Sweeney stated, “The past 18 years at Disney have been the highlight of my executive career. I’ve been a part of an amazing evolution in our business and our industry, and have achieved far more than I ever thought possible. But as wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place. I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘if not now, when?’ I know my decision to step back from all of this to learn the art of Directing may seem surprising, but to me it’s a long realised dream. I am so thankful to Bob Iger for his leadership, guidance and his friendship over the years, and am grateful not only for his offer to remain with the Company for many years to come, but his understanding and support of my decision to make this change. I’m excited to spend the remainder of this year positioning the TV Group for even greater success.”
Bob Iger added, “Since joining Disney, Anne has been a very successful executive in our senior ranks. Over the years, she grew our Disney Channel business into a global powerhouse and the main brand driver of our Company around the world; built ABC Family into a top cable network here in the U.S.; made ABC a strong, successful content creation engine; and has been a great partner in leading our industry into the digital age. Anne’s collaborative spirit, genuine curiosity and unwavering support have been a constant, but it is her friendship that I most value. I applaud Anne for knowing what she wants out of life and for having the courage to follow her dream. We’re thrilled she’ll be with us through the end of the year, and look forward to having her direct one of our shows in the future.”
As co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, Anne Sweeney oversees The Walt Disney Company’s global entertainment and news television properties. This includes ABC Studios; the ABC Owned Television Stations Group; the ABC Television Network, which provides entertainment, news and kids programming to tens of millions of viewers via more than 200 affiliated stations across the U.S.; successful millennial-focused cable channel ABC Family, which, under Sweeney’s supervision, has become a top cable destination for Females 12-34 and Women 18-34; and Disney Channels Worldwide, a portfolio of 107 kid-driven, family-inclusive entertainment channels, including Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama, and Radio Disney brands.
Since taking oversight of Disney Channels Worldwide, Disney Channel has enjoyed explosive growth and ratings success, currently celebrating 142 straight weeks as the #1 TV Network with Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14. And Disney Junior, the portfolio’s most recent addition, has quickly become the #1 preschool channel on television.
Additionally, Sweeney’s responsibilities include the company’s successful equity interest in A+E Networks, Fusion, and Hulu.
In 2005, Sweeney helped lead the industry into the digital era when the Disney/ABC Television Group became the first media company to put television content on new platforms. The group was the first to leverage iTunes, the first to introduce an ad-supported full episode player online, and the first to deliver an application for the revolutionary iPad.
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