Dana Walden Replaces Peter Rice as Disney’s No. 1 TV Content Executive, Has Oversight of ABC News

By A.J. Katz 

A surprising shakeup at The Walt Disney Company: Dana Walden is replacing her boss Peter Rice as Chairman, Disney General Entertainment Content.

Rice will no longer remain with the company, while Walden becomes Disney’s No. 1 content executive, overseeing all original news and entertainment programming for Disney’s streaming platforms and its cable and broadcast networks. She will have oversight of ABC News, ABC Entertainment, Disney Branded Television, Disney TV Studios, Freeform, FX, Hulu, National Geographic Content and Onyx Collective. Walden previously served as Chairman, Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, and she will report directly to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

“Dana is a dynamic, collaborative leader and cultural force who in just three years has transformed our television business into a content powerhouse that consistently delivers the entertainment audiences crave,” Chapek said. “Her well-earned reputation for championing creative talent and developing programming that truly captures the cultural zeitgeist has resulted in hit after hit, from ABC’s Abbott Elementary and Onyx Collective’s Academy Award-winning Summer of Soul, to Hulu Originals like Only Murders in the Building, Dopesick, The Dropout and The Kardashians. She and Peter have worked closely together for years to create the best programming in the industry—and I can think of no one better than Dana to lead Disney General Entertainment to even greater heights.”


Walden added, “It is an incredible honor to be asked to lead this amazingly talented team—they are truly the absolute best in every respect—and I am grateful to Bob for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Walden joined Disney in 2019 with the company’s $73 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. She had served as Fox TV group chairman before the acquisition, reporting directly to Rice, who had been 21CF president and chairman/CEO of Fox Networks Group.

While Rice’s firing was a surprise, he had been rumored to be in contention for a top entertainment role under David Zaslav at Warner Bros. Discovery and had also been discussed as a possible replacement for Chapek.

What does that mean for ABC News? Well, for one, Kim Godwin has a new boss. Outside of that, it remains to be seen. We don’t know what the relationship has been as of late between ABC News and Rice, but we do know that there was some friction last fall after Rice announced Disney was not going to conduct an independent investigation into the sexual assault allegations that were being made against former GMA boss Michael Corn (who continues to deny the allegations). Perhaps Godwin and ABC News can request an independent investigation again now that there’s a new exec in charge.