After nearly a full hour of ESPN, it was time for ABC News to be featured at the Disney 2023 upfront presentation.
World News Tonight anchor David Muir took over for Peyton Manning, and kicked off the ABC News portion by quipping that he’ll need to high-tail it out of the building after his segment in order to make the 6:30 ET newscast. He then discussed World News Tonight’s coverage of Ukraine, including his own interview with President Zelensky in Kiev; his interviews with President Biden, Vice President Pence, as well as the upcoming 2024 presidential campaign season (“I’m sorry, it’s coming … I can wake you the day of if you don’t want to go through it,” he quipped to the audience).
The World News Tonight anchor handed the stage over to ABC7 Eyewitness News co-anchors Bill Ritter and Sade Baderinwa, who took the stage to represent ABC’s O&O’s. (It’s worth noting that neither NBCU nor Fox devoted any time to local news).
“David Muir introducing us! We usually introduce him at 6:29 and 45 seconds!,” Ritter exclaimed. “Our teams, everyday, personalize the incredible stories from across the ABC News ecosystem to get to the heart of every story and to bring it home to our viewers. Literally and figuratively,” he added.
“That could be featuring a veteran or a small business owner. A high school athlete or even a teacher who reminds their favorite Abbott Elementary character. We get to champion the local hometown heroes that remind us of our common bonds,” said Baderinwa.
“We are there to help lift our communities in times of crisis,” Ritter added.
Baderinwa then threw out some interesting stats.
“Nearly one in two sports fans value advertisers who support their local news teams. 69% of these same fans — they have an affinity for local news.”
Ritter added, “90% of these fans are more likely to watch ABC local news.”
Baderinwa then threw to GMA’s George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan, the latter of whom was appearing at his second upfront in less than 24 hours (Fox on Monday on behalf of Fox Sports). Robin Roberts was not present, she is in Paris covering a story for the newscast.
The Disney upfront comes at a unique time for the company, in the midst of layoffs that will see 7,000 jobs eliminated, including those at ABC News.
In discussing Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos highlighted his interview with Sam Bankman-Fried, the FTX crypto exchange chief who was arrested earlier this year for financial fraud. Strahan highlighted his interview with Prince Harry.
Strahan then tossed it to former GMA host and New York Giants teammate Jesse Palmer, who talked Bachelor franchise and later introduced the Kardashians.
Adding news about sports news to the mix: Former NFL player and digital video sports host Pat McAfee also appeared on the Disney upfront stage to confirm his new multiplatform ESPN role as part of a new multi-year agreement.
The Pat McAfee Show, the weekday sports talk and discussion program that’s highly popular with the male Gen Z audience, will move to ESPN this fall. The program will air live weekdays on ESPN, the ESPN YouTube Channel, the ESPN App and ESPN+. Details about ESPN’s new weekday afternoon schedule, which will continue to include SportsCenter, will be announced prior to The Pat McAfee Show launch this fall.
In addition to hosting the daily show, McAfee will contribute to ESPN digital and social platforms. He’ll also continue his college football analyst role on ESPN’s College GameDay, and host alternate presentations of ESPN college football telecasts.
The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand broke the news of McAfee’s deal roughly an hour before the upfront started.