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. For the 2020/21 season, ABC was the #3 network by total viewers (averaging 4.6m primetime viewers) and #4 in the 18-49 demographic. It had no shows among the Top 20 most watched, with former high-flyer 'The Good Doctor' slipping by 20% to 8.3m viewers. Veteran drama 'Grey's Anatomy', now in its 17th season, was its #2 show at 8.2m, followed by new crime drama 'Big Sky' (7.5m) and reality shows 'American Idol' and 'Dancing With the Stars' and game show 'Celebrity Wheel of Fortune' (7.2m). For years, ABC has tended to be 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 the Disney Channel. Broadcast revenues got a big boost in ye 2020 from political advertising, topping $10.4bn with operating income of $2.0bn, though both were still well below what the group's cable networks generate. ABC content is also available in the US on streaming platform Hulu, in which Disney was originally a partner with Fox and Comcast. It took over control of that service in 2019, and that same year the group launched streaming service Disney+ in the US as a direct competitor to Netflix. It has been steadily expanding the footprint of Disney+ since then into international markets. By Oct 2020, Disney+ had signed up more 73.7m subscribers worldwide. Higher-priced Hulu had 36.6m. Following a groupwide restructuring to separate production and distribution of content, the Disney and Fox TV production studios were merged under the control of Peter Rice, chairman, general entertainment content. Kareem Daniel was appointed as chairman of media & entertainment distribution, which includes the broadcast and cable channels. Streaming operations fall under the control of Rebecca Campbell, chair of international operations and direct-to-consumer.
Capsule checked 17th July 2020
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Historical profile information for ABC
Marketer Moves 5th Oct 2021: New president TBC at Hulu. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 12th May 2021: New SVP marketing at Hulu. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd May 2020: Helped by Super Bowl and break-out entertainment hit 'The Masked Singer', Fox delivered its best network performance since 2012 in the US TV season ended May. It reclaimed the position of top network for viewers in the most valuable 18-49 demographic for the first time in eight long years, with an average of almost 2.2m primetime viewers. CBS retained its position as the most-watched channel by total viewers at 7.6m, more than 1m clear of second-placed NBC. Fox was 3rd for total viewers ahead of ABC. The most watched regular programme overall among total viewers was NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' with an average 20m viewers. CBS's long-running 'NCIS' drama franchise - now in its 17th year - was the #2 show at 15.3m viewers.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Apr 2020: Disney may be suffering the impact from Coronavirus on its theme parks and movie releases, but the newly launched Disney+ is mopping up. This week, the streaming service topped 50m subscribers worldwide, just five months after its US launch. That's already not far off the bottom end of the 60m to 90m target it had set itself for 2024, yet currently Disney+ is only available in North America, Australasia and eight European markets. The rest of Western Europe, Japan and Latin America will come on-stream later this year, with Eastern Europe and the rest of Asia Pacific in 2021.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Mar 2020: Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Google's YouTube and Facebook have all agreed to downgrade streaming quality by at least 25% throughout Europe to reduce the pressure on broadband networks during Coronavirus lockdown. Demand is now reaching peak levels throughout the day because of home working and an even greater requirement for entertainment, and is expected to hit new highs this week with the launch of Disney+. Disney even agreed to a request from the French government to delay the launch of its streaming service in France for another two weeks until early April.
Adbrands Daily Update 7th Oct 2019: Ahead of the imminent launch of its Disney+ streaming service, the House of Mouse has ruled that it will not accept advertising on its other entertainment channels - for example, US network ABC, cable channels such as Freeform or streaming service Hulu - from Netflix. It had originally decided not to accept ads from any rival streamer - AT&T, Comcast and Apple are among the many rivals who also have new OTT services - but then backed down from that position. It will now accept ads from Comcast's Peacock, AT&T's HBO Max and Apple+. Just not Netflix. There's one exception: ESPN will still run Netflix advertising (if it is booked).
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd May 2019: CBS was once again America's most watched broadcaster by prime time viewers, its 11th consecutive #1 position, and had the top three scripted shows. 'Big Bang Theory' was - for the last time ever - the country's #1 most watched scripted show, with an average of 17.3m viewers. 'NCIS' and 'Big Bang' spin-off 'Young Sheldon' were the #2 and #3 shows respectively. However, total numbers continued to slide: CBS averaged a total of 8.9m viewers nightly for the season ending this week, down from 9.0m last year and 9.6m the year before. Indeed, all networks except Fox reported year-on-year declines. NBC was the #2 network overall (7.2m viewers), and led the prized 18-49 demographic for the 3rd straight year. Its 'Sunday Night Football' was the country's single most watched regular show at 19.3m viewers. ABC and Fox were in 3rd and 4th place again by total viewers; Fox tied CBS for the #2 position in 18-49ers.
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