Wednesday morning at CES, Ben Sherwood, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, sounded upbeat about his division’s prospects for the coming few years. “I’ve been at this long enough to know that every decade obituaries are written about broadcast,” he said. “In my view, the sky is not falling; I think the sky is rising.”
Interviewed by Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein, Sherwood declined comment on Disney’s proposed purchase of some Fox Studio assets, though he added, “Personally, I’m extremely excited about it.”
The Disney direct-to-home streaming service won’t begin until 2019, though Sherwood said that his group was “heavily involved” in its preparation. An ESPN+ streaming service should start in Spring 2018. He said that Disney’s timeless characters and content would provide “an irresistible family service” for households and kids.
The expansion of distribution methods has fractured the audience, but viewers are watching more video than ever. “It’s a critical period, but I would say that it’s always been a critical period,” Sherwood said.