Following weeks of speculation, outgoing ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is officially joining Netflix in a senior leadership role as Vice President of Original Content, reporting to Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content. She is expected to start in February.
In this newly created role, Dungey will partner with Holland in setting strategy for Netflix’s original series and will oversee a large and key portion of the slate, including some of the company’s overall deals with such top writer-producers as Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Kenya Barris, Steven DeKnight, Marti Noxon, as well as Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions which has a deal there.
During her ABC tenure, Dungey worked closely with Rhimes and Barris who both came to Netflix after lengthy stints at ABC Studios. While at ABC Studios prior to that, Dungey also worked with Noxon.
“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry. She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.
It was less than eight years ago that Netflix signaled an entrance into the original programming space with a mega deal for House of Cards. The company’s original scripted series portfolio has grown exponentially since, to 100 or so home-grown shows. (Netflix does not provide broken down numbers but pegged all of its 2018 original series to 700, which includes co-productions, foreign-language series and acquisitions that are Netflix originals in some parts of the world.) That has led to an expansion of Netflix’s series executive team. Holland’s group is currently the largest group of content executives at Netflix, with Dungey set to assume half of the team. That includes the programming executives who have worked on such series as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Narcos and The Crown.
“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network. I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives” said Holland.
Netflix has been aggressive in building its original content empire. The company, which spent $8 billion – $13 billion on original programming in 2018, has relied on debt financing to support the growth, with three new rounds in the past 14 months. Netflix has used its war chest also to poach top talent, including Ryan Murphy as well as Rhimes and Barris who will now reunite with Dungey.
“I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content,” Dungey said. “Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I’m invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent.”
There had been speculation even before Dungey announced a month ago that she was stepping down from her post as ABC Entertainment president , that she might be going to Netflix, possibly working with Rhimes and the Obamas.
Over the past few weeks, the chatter about a Netflix move intensified, with observers calling her a great choice to join the Netflix executive ranks with her strong Hollywood relationships and the respect she has from her peers.
Dungey became the first black executive to run one of the Big Four networks’ entertainment divisions when she was named ABC Entertainment president in February 2016. She added promising new series such as The Good Doctor and Single Parents to the ABC schedule and shepherded the return of American Idol during her tenure. She also was credited as being a driving force behind the network’s swift decision to cancel its top series, Roseanne, following star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet. ABC was the most social network on air under her leadership.
Prior to that, Dungey ran ABC’s drama development, overseeing the development of such shows as Shondaland’s Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, and Once Upon a Time.
Dungey joined the network’s drama development department in June 2009. Prior to that, she oversaw drama programming for ABC Studios, where her slate included Shondaland’s Private Practice for ABC, and CBS’s long-running drama Criminal Minds, among others.
Dungey’s career in entertainment has spanned both television and film. She partnered with Pamela Post, and formed Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making both studio and independent films, as well as developing TV series. She also served as president of Material, a film production company with a first-look deal at Warner Bros. Prior to that, she served for five years as a Warner Bros. production executive, helping to develop and supervise a diverse range of commercially successful, critically acclaimed films.