The entertainment world has known since November that ABC head Channing Dungey was leaving Disney ahead of its Fox acquisition, despite the Mouse House’s significant efforts to retain her. Now we know why—and we can’t say we blame her.
Dungey is joining Netflix as vice president of original content, where she will report to Cindy Holland, per Deadline. Dungey will begin in February and help Holland set the strategy for Netflix’s original TV offerings. And here’s the kicker: She’ll be working closely with key writer-producers such as Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), Jenji Kohan (Orange Is the New Black, GLOW), Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Steven DeKnight (Daredevil), Marti Noxon (Sharp Objects), and Barack and Michelle Obama. The former first couple signed an unprecedented production deal with the streaming giant in which they will help develop scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries and features. During her time at ABC, Dungey also worked with Rhimes, Barris and Noxon, so she’s already familiar with the marquee talent.
“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker, and talent love working with her.”
Earlier this year, Sarandos said Netflix will house 1,000 original shows and movies by the end of 2018 (it’s now set to release roughly 90 films annually). The number of scripted series it produces is rising every year, and the streaming platform is entrusting Dungey with a large chunk of its TV business. She’ll work with programming executives who have previously helped develop series such as House of Cards, Narcos and The Crown.
“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network,” Holland said. “I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives.”
Dungey’s departure from the Magic Kingdom adds another chapter of drama to the saga between the two titans of entertainment. The two have been partners on mutually beneficial licensing agreements, but once the Mouse House launches its direct-to-consumer streaming service, Disney+, it will become an immediate threat to Netflix’s growing empire.
“I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content,” Dungey said. “Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming.”
Let the games begin.