The American Broadcasting Company, known as ABC, is one of the big four US television networks, beamed into US homes through some 245 affiliate stations nationwide. Since 1996, the business has been a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Although the fortunes of all four networks tend to fluctuate from season to season, ABC had arguably a harder time than most in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It slipped to the bottom of the rankings towards the end of the 1990s before being brought back to life by the enormous but comparatively short-lived success of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Another slump occurred between 2002 and 2004, before the network enjoyed a half-hearted revival as a result of hit series including Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost. More recently though it has been stuck in 3rd or 4th place by ratings. It had a big success in 2018 with the reboot of Roseanne only to then cancel the show in the wake of its star's racist Tweet. Other key shows include Grey's Anatomy (now in its 14th season), Modern Family, The Bachelor and American Idol - all coming to the end of their natural lives, as ratings steadily decline - and newer hits The Good Doctor and The Goldbergs. For years, ABC has been overshadowed financially within the group's media networks portfolio by the hugely successful ESPN sports brand, the world's most lucrative cable property, as well as several Disney-branded kids' networks, led by th Disney Channel. Broadcast revenues were just under $7.0bn in ye 2017, less than half what the group's cable networks generate. ABC content is also available in the US on streaming platform Hulu.com, in which Disney is a partner with Fox and Comcast. Ben Sherwood is co-chairman of Disney Media Networks with principal responsibility for ABC. Channing Dungey is president of the main ABC Entertainment content division.
Capsule checked 31st August 2018
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Historical profile information for ABC
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Oct 2018: Lenovo regained the top spot from HP in IDC's ranking of the top-selling PC manufacturers worldwide in 3Q. The US company had overtaken its Chinese rival in 2017 for the first time in years. Total worldwide shipments were down almost 1% year-on-year as a result of a 12% decline at 5th-ranked Apple and 11% among all other smaller manufacturers. Lenovo, though, saw a near-6% increase in shipments (as did #3 Dell), while HP was more or less flat. Acer in 4th place was up 8.5% year on year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: From returning champion to industry pariah in 180 characters. ABC cancelled plans for a second season of 'Roseanne' in the wake of an appalling late-night Tweet issued by its loudmouth star comparing black politician Valerie Jarrett, a former advisor to President Obama, to an ape. Channing Dungey, the president of ABC Entertainment (and who also happens to be black), described Roseanne Barr's tweet as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values". She received the full support of her immediate boss Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television, and her ultimate boss, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger. There was also widespread public condemnation from other members of the entertainment community, including 'Roseanne' co-star Sara Gilbert. More than a hundred members of the 'Roseanne' cast and crew have lost their jobs as a result of the star's behaviour. Barr later apologised for her "bad joke", which she agreed was "indefensible". In one Tweet she blamed her actions on the sedative Ambien; its makers Sanofi responded with the comment that "Racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication." The latest series of 'Roseanne' has been removed from streaming service Hulu and its 80s predecessors from all Viacom cable channels; Barr herself was dropped by her agent ICM. It was a bold and brave move by ABC: the triumphant return of 'Roseanne' was the network's most popular show by far in the season just ended, attracting an average of 13.5m viewers, more than any other regular show apart from top-ranked 'Sunday Night Football' and long-running sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory'. The planned second season formed the centerpiece of ABC's recent upfront presentation to advertisers. Kantar estimates a potential cost of as much as $60m in lost ad revenues. However, as Disney chief Iger tweeted in response to the cancellation, "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing."
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th May 2018: The US TV broadcast season wrapped up, with NBC the clear winner by viewers in the key 18-49 demographic for the second consecutive year, and close behind CBS as the overall #1 by total viewers. It was the tenth straight year that CBS has been America's most watched network, and the 15th time in 16 years. (Its only miss was in 2008 when it lost to Fox as a result of the huge success of 'American Idol'). Even so, CBS's average prime-time audience of 9.0m viewers was down by 7% on last year. NBC was close behind at 8.9m viewers, up 9%, helped by the triple whammy of the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and big drama hit 'This Is Us'. ABC was in third place with 6.1m total viewers - the huge success of 'Roseanne' saved it from bottom, along with surprise hit 'The Good Doctor'. Fox trailed in 4th place on 4.9m. That number would have been even lower without hit drama '911'. Among 18-49 year-old adults, NBC was the clear leader with a 2.2 rating. All three other networks scored a 1.5 rating. NBC’s 'Sunday Night Football' was once again the top show in that key demo, averaging a 6.2 rating.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Apr 2018: With the traditional US broadcast season entering its final weeks, NBC is set to take top slot for the year with around 9.5m average primetime viewers. Key factors have been its coverage of both the Winter Olympics and the 2018 Super Bowl. CBS is currently in second place with 9.0m total average viewers, followed by ABC at 6.0m and Fox trailing on 5.2m. NBC also leads in the prized 18-49 demographic, with CBS second, and ABC and Fox tied for third.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: The 2018 Academy Awards, broadcast on ABC, made for an entertaining television event, certainly for the cognoscenti and industry insiders, but the mass American viewing public was unimpressed. The TV audience of 26.5m viewers marked a record low for the event, down 19% on last year, and the first time in the modern TV age that the audience has fallen below 30m. The major contributing factor is the pre-eminence of arthouse fare over the commercial hits that, until 2005, always dominated the event. As recently as 2004, the winner of the Best Picture would always have been among the year's three or four biggest hits at the US box office. Fox Searchlight's The Shape of Water is a fine film, but it was only the 48th most popular with US audiences last year. The two most successful of the other nominees, Dunkirk and Get Out, were 14th and 15th respectively. That reflects an increasingly bizarre disconnect between the films the industry values and the ones that audiences want to see.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Aug 2017: In a development that demonstrates the growing attractions of the unfettered creativity (and cash) offered by Netflix, superstar producer Shonda Rimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder etc etc) is to end her partnership with Disney's ABC network to sign a multi-year deal with the streaming giant. She will continue to oversee existing shows on ABC, but any new series will be developed exclusively for Netflix. Rimes said "I'm thrilled by the idea of a world where I'm not caught in the necessary grind of network television," as well as the restrictions on language, nudity and violence.
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