BURBANK, CA (April 20, 2004) – Rich Ross has been named President, Disney Channel Worldwide, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, newly named Co-Chairman, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company, and President, Disney ABC Television, to whom Mr. Ross reports.
In his new role, Ross is responsible for day to day management of The Walt Disney Company’s wholly-owned basic cable channels for kids and families, Disney Channel and Toon Disney in the United States, and 22 international Disney Channels including three Playhouse Disney Channels and three Toon Disney Channels in the United Kingdom, France and Spain; Disney-branded programming blocks in 51 countries reaching 600 million television viewers worldwide; the Company’s majority interest in over a dozen JETIX channels (transitioning from the name FOX Kids Europe and Latin America) and JETIX-branded programming (formerly FOX Kids-branded), distributed to 119 terrestrial, cable and satellite broadcasters operating in over 50 countries across Europe and the Middle East.
Ms. Sweeney said, “Rich is an exemplary executive who has led the Disney Channel team to an all-time high in ratings with preschoolers, kids and families and has increased the overall value of the channel for our cable partners. He consistently puts an emphasis on smart strategy and teamwork and has proven that we can deliver top quality programming for our viewers and profitable franchises for our partners throughout the Company. I look forward to his continued leadership and tremendous contribution across a wider area of our business.”
Mr. Ross joined Disney Channel 1996 as senior vice president, Programming and Production, and was named president in 2002. In his most recent position, he oversaw all programming, production and marketing for Disney Channel. Under his leadership, Mr. Ross expanded the network’s original programming offerings to include such hit shows as Lizzie McGuire, That’s So Raven, Disney’s Kim Possible, and The Proud Family. He also oversaw the creation of Disney Channel’s critically acclaimed learning-based programming block for preschoolers, Playhouse Disney, which includes Stanley, the Emmy-award winning Rolie Polie Olie and JoJo’s Circus and has since become the centerpiece for Disney’s company-wide initiative to introduce preschoolers to Disney characters, programs and products through learning-based entertainment.
In 2003, Disney Channel was the #1 rated basic cable network in primetime with Kids 6-14 and tied for #2 in Households and Total Viewers. In total day measurement, Disney Channel was #2 in Kids 6-11, #1 in Tweens 9-14 and tied for #2 in Households and Total Viewers. Over the past two seasons, Disney Channel’s ratings for kids 6-11 have increased 64% and this season boys 6-11 are up 67%.
Prior to his tenure at Disney Channel, Mr. Ross was senior vice president, Development and Production for FX Networks from 1993-96, where he was a member of the executive team that launched the cable network. Before joining FX Networks, he was at Nickelodeon from 1986-93, where he most recently served as vice president of Program Enterprises and was involved in all original-programming deals, including those for co-production. In addition, Mr. Ross launched Nick News with Linda Ellerbee into syndication, Nickelodeon’s first syndication success. He was also part of the launch team for Nickelodeon’s first international network, Nickelodeon UK.
Mr. Ross is a member of the Board of Directors of Cable in the Classroom, an organization that represents the cable telecommunications industry’s commitment to education.
Mr. Ross will continue to be based in the Burbank, California headquarters of ABC Cable Networks Group. A native of New York, Ross is a 1983 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and English. He received his J.D. degree from New York’s Fordham University in 1986. He resides in Los Angeles.