EXCLUSIVE: John Rouse, who has been with The Walt Disney Company for the past 33 years, most recently as EVP of Affiliate Relations for the ABC Television Network, is stepping down at the end of July. Rouse announced his upcoming retirement Wednesday in a note to ABC affiliates and station group heads. The position, which reports to Justin Connolly, President, Disney Platform Distribution, will be refilled.
Twenty-seven of Rouse’s 33 years with Disney have been spent at ABC. As EVP of Affiliate Relations for the network and its territories, including Station Relations Affiliate Operations, Rouse has been responsible for setting ABC’s network distribution strategy, negotiating broadcast affiliation agreements and achieving distribution revenue goals amid an evolution of the broadcast business. He also has been behind efforts to maximize the exposure and local viewership of ABC Entertainment, ABC News, “ESPN on ABC” and ABC’s digital distribution initiatives through 200+ television stations.
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During Rouse’s tenure, the company and its ABC affiliates have worked to establish agreements for new series launches, programming fee contributions, news video sharing, inventory and promotion exchanges, as well as distribution on expanded platforms.
Rouse initially joined Disney in 1989 as a Director of Sales at Buena Vista Television. Prior to segueing into the Affiliate Relations team at ABC in 1996, Rouse was Vice President, Central Division at Buena Vista Television based in Chicago, responsible for overseeing all of the company’s syndication sales activity in the Midwest territory of the United States, including the sales and launch of both first-run and off-network series, as well as movies and specials.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with the best in the business at The Walt Disney Company, ABC Entertainment, ABC News and ESPN, as well as a collaborative and supportive group of business executives who are just as creative and driven by the pursuit of excellence,” Rouse wrote in his note to affiliates. “Although I’m looking forward to this next chapter and being able to spend more time with friends and family, I’ll undoubtedly miss you all a great deal and will be rooting for your continued success.”
Rouse began his career with KNBC-TV in Burbank, California, in the station’s advertising sales division. He subsequently joined MGM/United Artists’ syndication division as an account executive and was promoted to manager, Eastern Division.
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