For the past year, ABC has been Bruce Rosenblum’s partner on the Primetime Emmy Awards. Heading into the awards show on Sunday, it also is his employer. Disney today announced the appointment of the veteran executive as president of Business Operations for the Disney-ABC Television Group.
This is a somewhat surprising upper-level corporate job for someone who has run two companies back-to-back, Warner Bros. TV Group and Legendary TV. That’s why nobody approached him for it.
Instead, at a June meeting with a recruiter, Rosenblum was presented with a number of opportunities for seats on the boards of various companies — the traditional career path for former top executives. At the end of that meeting, Rosenblum asked the recruiter if they had any interesting corporate searches. The job hunter had a big opening at ABC but wasn’t sure Rosenblum would be interested. “He walked me through this opportunity, and I jumped across the table, ‘this is the perfect job for me’,” Rosenblum said in a joint interview with his new boss, Disney|ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood, on Friday. “I had admired the Disney company for a long time.”
For his part, Sherwood said that “we’d been looking for awhile… but we weren’t aware that he was looking or interested.” When word came in that he was, Sherwood and Rosenblum sat down for burgers in late July and talks opened, with the deal hammered out in the past two weeks, just in time for Emmy weekend.
The hire has practical benefits for Sherwood as more than half of his current reports will now report to Rosenblum. (Nobody is leaving). That will allow him to focus more on several key areas, including creative. Still reporting to him are the heads of ABC Entertainment (Channing Dungey), ABC Studios (Patrick Moran), Disney Channels (Gary Marsh), Freeform (Tom Ascheim) as well as HR, communications, legal and finance.
But on a larger scale, what drove the creation of the new position was that “in a rapidly changing marketplace, we need greater efficiencies and operational effectiveness,” Sherwood said. What he wants Rosenblum to accomplish is “to help drive growth, modernize our business, help look across business lines for ways to be more effective and efficient and bring his experience to bear on our TV operations.”
Sherwood called Rosenblum “a proven executive, extremely innovative dealmaker and savvy negotiator, a leader with tremendous personal skills, a creative thinker and very flexible problem solver.”
In taking the Disney-ABC job, Rosenblum, former president of Warner Bros. TV Group, was encouraged by the current success of his former colleague Alan Horn, once president of Warner Bros. Entertainment and now chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Both Rosenblum and Horn were pushed out of Warner Bros. in executive restructurings after successful runs.
“I really feel I’ve joined the A-team, seeing how rewarding it’s been for Alan,” Rosenblum said.
Added Sherwood, “If Bruce has even a portion of the success that Alan Horn has had at the movie studio, we are going to be absolutely fine.”
Asked about the biggest challenges that linear television is facing right now, Rosenblum said, “time-shifting, ad-skipping,” adding, “but the biggest opportunity is to figure out how to direct the content to the viewer, how to interact with consumer and target advertising, how to take advantage of digital platforms that we partner with or own.”
With his non-paying job winding down on Sunday (his second term as TV Academy chairman is up at the end of the year), Rosenblum will start tackling those challenges on Monday.