Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, will replace Anne Sweeney as co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, beginning Feb. 1, 2015, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), announced Monday.
Sweeney’s decision to leave Disney and pursue a career in directing television programs reportedly came sometime in January and she will continue in her position through January 2015. Sherwood will begin the transition with immediate effect as co-president of the Disney/ABC Television Group and will also continue to oversee ABC News until a successor is named, the Burbank, Calif.-based company said in a statement.
“Ben is one of those unique executives who combine rich creative experience with great business acumen,” Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in the statement. “He’s also focused, strategic, and competitive, as evidenced by the success of GMA, the Yahoo deal that delivered ABC News online dominance, and his vision behind our new cable and digital joint venture, Fusion. These reasons, and many others, make Ben the ideal candidate to oversee the future of the Disney/ABC Television Group.”
Sherwood is credited with playing a significant role in transforming ABC News into a successful network over the past several years, which included driving “Good Morning America” to the top position in the ratings race. In 2013, Sherwood helped ABC News team up with Univision to launch Fusion, a news and entertainment network, aimed at young Hispanics.
Sherwood said, in a statement, that he was honored and humbled for having been offered the opportunity, adding that he was grateful to Sweeney, “who has built and led a powerhouse division over the last 10 years.”
Sweeney said about Sherwood: “Over the years, he has moved from success-to-success and helped create a more vibrant, collaborative and powerful News division that embraces innovation and risk-taking, adding: "Ben’s now set to bring those same attributes to bear for the larger Group."
Sherwood, an award-winning journalist and the author of two best-selling novels, started working with Disney in 1989. He later moved to NBC News before moving to ABC in 2004, and was named president in December 2010.