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Disney/ABC Hires Top Analytics and Digital Execs

The Disney/ABC Television Group has hired top executives from Wal-Mart and AOL to enhance its consumer analytics and digital media capabilities.

At a time when the television business is changing, these new executives will help Disney’s networks transition from the mass media era to one that is more digital and personalized.

Cindy Davis joins as executive VP, consumer experience, from Wal-Mart, and John Frelinghuysen joins as executive VP, digital media, strategy and business development. Both newly created jobs report to Ben Sherwood, president, Disney/ABC Television Group and cochairman of Disney Media Networks.

“These two dynamic new leaders bring considerable talent and experience to Disney|ABC that will help drive our business forward and position us for even greater success,” Sherwood said. “I’ve asked Cindy to significantly expand our capability to understand our audience and help us use these new insights to improve the consumer experience on all platforms. John’s mission is to define and execute plans to monetize both new and existing content, as well as to harness the power of the collective Disney|ABC portfolio into a more unified and holistic consumer experience.”

Davis will spearhead the company’s shift to what it called a more programming services and consumer-centric business model. She will be responsible for improving existing research capabilities across multiple platforms and enhancing consumer insights and analytic capabilities. She will also develop an overall consumer experience strategy that will provide greater personalization and product opportunities, enhance the MVPD ecosystem, support the company’s marketing efforts, advertising and other revenue opportunities.

“Combining a deeper understanding of today’s viewers with its legacy of brilliant storytelling, Disney|ABC is poised to further engage consumers with the entertainment and news they want, when and where they want to enjoy it,” Davis said. “I look forward to helping champion the consumers’ voice within Disney|ABC in a way that drives innovation for viewers and value for the business, our distribution partners, and our shareholders.”

Before working at Wal-Mart as executive VP, global customer insights and analytics, she worked at Rapp Collins Worldwide, Yum Brands, Harrah’s and TracyLocke.

Frelinghuysen will oversee strategy and business development across the company’s portfolio of content and brands to create products for digital and mobile platforms. He will be defining and executing plans to effectively monetize both new and existing short-form and long-form content and distribution across multiple screens and platforms. He will also work closely with business unit presidents to enable the implementation of their initiatives.

"There is an unprecedented opportunity for creating new content experiences and driving revenue growth in digital video. Disney|ABC's global brands and content assets provide an outstanding platform for innovation and realizing the digital opportunity,” Frelinghuysen said.

Prior to his stint as senior VP and head of strategy for AOL, Frelinghuysen held posts at Bain & Co. and Booz Allen Hamilton. His clients including Nielsen, Clear Channel Communications, and Viacom.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.