Bruce Rosenblum will be leaving his post as president, Business Operations for Disney-ABC Television Group after a year and half. He will depart the company at the end of May. Disney|ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood, who brought the.former Warner Bros. TV Group and Legendary TV topper onboard in September 2016, just confirmed the news in an internal memo. In addition to stepping down from his duties at Disney-ABC, Rosenblum will vacate his seat on the Hulu board.
I hear Rosenblum’s exit comes with a year and a half left on his contract and a brief non-compete period. It stems from the major reorganization the Walt Disney Co. announced in March as the company prepares to launch direct-to-consumer services and seeks to grow internationally. It involved the creation of a new Direct-to-Consumer & International division, consolidating business operational areas across the company under one unit run by Kevin Mayer.
As part of that restructuring, global ad sales for Disney’s media properties – including ESPN, ABC, Freeform and the Disney Channels – as well as global programming distribution moved from Media Networks group to Mayer’s unit. As a result, a large part of Rosenblum’s responsibilities migrated to the new division. That includes ad sales, domestic distribution as well as the digital and technology operations for the Disney-ABC TV Group, which also are expected to be relocated to the new division.
Speculation started back then that Rosenblum, who has been advising on dealmaking for all new ABC series pickups, may depart after the end of pilot season.
“After a number of conversations about other possible roles within Disney ABC, I am sorry to share that Bruce has decided to depart the company at the end of May,” Sherwood wrote in his internal email, a copy of which was obtained by Deadline. “I hope you’ll join me in saluting Bruce for the exceptional business acumen and television expertise he brought to our team, thanking him for his many contributions, and wishing him the best in his next endeavors.”
I hear that over the past 4-6 weeks Rosenblum did look at other opportunities within the Disney-ABC group but nothing jumped out as an appropriate fit as the role he had come to play no longer existed. That, coupled with the uncertainty what Disney-ABC may look like a year from now should the proposed acquisition of key 21st Century Fox assets go through, led to his decision to depart. But he supports the restructuring that largely eliminated his position.
“I genuinely believe that the direction Bob Iger is taking the Walt Disney Company is the absolute correct one and I applaud the company’s redirection to a direct-to-consumer future on a global basis,” Rosenblum told Deadline. “I very much like this company, I think it has a tremendous future. It was great to work within the Disney culture even for a short period of time.”
As for Rosenblum’s plans for the future, “my immediate plan is to use my silver pass one last time and take my daughter to Disneyland,” he said. After taking some time off during his non-compete period, he intends to jump back in.
“It’s an exciting television landscape,” Rosenblum said. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but I look forward to always being part of the TV industry.”
During his tenure at Disney-ABC, Rosenblum became known as a close advisor to Sherwood who influenced the company’s recent push for more ownership and more digital rights. This past pilot season, ABC introduced a new deal template for expanded stacking rights that cover full seasons in perpetuity on more platforms for all new ABC series.
As part of his ad sales oversight, Rosenblum last year consolidated ad sales for all ABC-Disney networks under Rita Ferro.
Before joining Disney-ABC, Rosenblum was president of Legendary Television and Digital Media, which he’d launched. He left following Legendary’s 2016 acquisition by China’s Dalian Wanda Group. He also served two terms as chairman & CEO of the Television Academy.
Before Legendary, Rosenblum spent 26 years at Warner Bros. From 2005 through 2013, he served as President, Warner Bros. Television Group. He was responsible for the entire Warner Bros. portfolio of television businesses, including Warner Bros. Television, Warner Horizon Television, Telepictures, Warner Bros. Animation, Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. Domestic and International Television Distribution, Marketing, Research and Ad Sales, and Warner Bros.’ co-ownership of the CW Broadcast Network.
Here is Sherwood’s note to staff:
As you are all aware, TWDC recently announced the creation of a new Direct-to-Consumer & International division – consolidating business operational areas across the company under one unit.
While this restructure is vital to the company’s future, one implication is that many of Bruce Rosenblum‘s responsibilities have been dispersed within the Company.
After a number of conversations about other possible roles within Disney ABC, I am sorry to share that Bruce has decided to depart the company at the end of May.
I hope you’ll join me in saluting Bruce for the exceptional business acumen and television expertise he brought to our team, thanking him for his many contributions, and wishing him the best in his next endeavors.