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Disney/ABC Taps Two Execs for New Digital Roles

Disney/ABC Television Group is taking its approach to digital content and analytics to the next level, tapping two top executives in the retail and online communities – former Walmart executive Cindy Davis and AOL veteran John Frelinghuysen -- for newly created roles aimed at beefing up its digital presence.

Both Davis and Frelinghuysen will report to Disney Media Networks co-chairman and Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood.

Davis, a long-time Walmart executive, has been named Disney/ABC’s executive vice president, consumer experience, and will be responsible for improving existing research capabilities across multiple platforms and enhancing Disney’s consumer insights and analytic capabilities to support our business strategies.

She also will be responsible for developing an overall consumer experience strategy that will provide greater personalization and product opportunities across platforms, enhance the MVPD ecosystem, support marketing efforts, and inform advertising and other revenue opportunities. Davis will also help define and shape Disney's shift to a more programming services and consumer-centric business model, the company said.

Frelinghuysen was named executive vice president, digital media, strategy and business development, and will oversee all aspects of strategy and business development across Disney/ABC Television’s portfolio of content and brands for digital content, products and technology and all mobile platform efforts. 

He is charged with defining and executing plans to effectively monetize both new and existing short-form and long-form content and distribution across multiple screens and platforms. Frelinghuysen will also work closely with business unit presidents to enable the implementation of their initiatives.

 “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 in a statement. “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.

“We have an incredible team here at Disney/ABC, made up of some of the best and brightest in the industry," Sherwood added. "I’m delighted Cindy and John are joining us, and am confident that they will help lead us to even greater heights.”

Davis most recently served as executive vice president, global customer insights and analytics, for Walmart, a position she had held since 2011. While at Walmart she established a Center of Excellence for Customer Insights & Analytics that integrated sales data, customer surveys, social signals and analytics to predict customer needs and created the Customer Knowledge Platform that became the foundation for understanding customers across channels and serving them seamlessly and relevantly. She also re-introduced Syndicated Data into Walmart and Sam’s Club to provide a marketplace view of customer and competitive behavior, driving significant sales and market share growth.

Prior to her Walmart tenure Davis served as executive vice president, membership, marketing and eCommerce, for Sam’s Club for four years, after a stint as president of global development and communications at direct marketer Rapp Collins Worldwide.

“I can’t imagine a better company to be joining than Disney/ABC Television or a better time to be joining this team,” Davis said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Frelinghuysen has more than 20 years’ experience in digital strategy, most recently serving as senior vice president and head of strategy for AOL, a position he held since 2013. Prior to that, he was a partner at management consulting giant Bain & Co., in the Media, Entertainment and Information practice.

From 1987 to 2007, Frelinghuysen worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the last three years as Lead Partner and Practice Leader, U.S. Media and Entertainment, and participated in the private equity buyouts of Nielsen and Clear Channel Communications. He also worked closely with cable networks like MTV Networks and BET, helping develop growth strategies, driving ratings improvement and boosting marketing and promotions.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Disney/ABC team,” Frelinghuysen said in a statement. “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."