ABC announced Wednesday that Channing Dungey has taken over as president of ABC Entertainment Group. Dungey is the first Black person to head a major network and one of the few women to hold this type of position in TV history.
However, the announcement comes during a ratings downturn for the network.
According to reports by Entertainment Weekly, ABC is fourth in ratings and has only averaged an estimated seven million viewers during prime-time TV.
“Season-to-date, ABC is averaging a 1.8 rating among adults 18–49, down 14 percent from this time last year (including DVR). By comparison, CBS – which just aired the Super Bowl – is in first place with a 2.5 demo rating, NBC is right behind with a 2.4, and Fox has a 2.1 (the fifth broadcaster, The CW, has a 0.7),” reports EW.
Dungey replaces Paul Lee, who stepped down as president. Her success producing mega-hits for various networks makes her the perfect candidate for the job. She was instrumental in the development and success of hits like Scandal, Criminal Minds, How To Get Away With Murder, Quantico, Army Wives and Once Upon A Time.
“[Dungey] is a gifted leader and a proven magnet for top creative talent, with an impressive record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming that resonates with viewers,” Ben Sherwood, chairman of the Disney-ABC Television Group, said in a statement.
But what does her hiring mean for the network?
ABC realizes that their most popular shows star women and people of color. Without Shonda Rimes’ super successful “Thank God It’s Thursday” lineup, the network would never have a chance to compete with other top networks.
To compete with CBS and NBC, Dungey will more than likely add crime shows with diverse casts to the network. CBS draws tens of millions of viewers every night with their crime-related TV shows. Based on Dungey’s track record, ABC may want that.
Dungey will help ABC realize its real audience: women. The network’s most popular shows have well-developed women kicking a** at their respective careers. ABC can be a perfect destination on network TV for women.
ABC has a hard task to achieve. There are so many options out there for TV viewers. To distinguish themselves they have to figure out what makes their network unique.