Netflix Inc. has tapped former ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey as a vice president of original content, the latest evidence of the growing rivalry between the streaming-video giant and ABC parent Walt Disney Co.
ABC said last month that Ms. Dungey was stepping down from her post as Disney looks to complete its acquisition of the bulk of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment operations. That deal, which is expected to close early next year, will result in new management at ABC and the rest of Disney’s television operations.
Ms. Dungey, who starts in February, follows other prominent people from ABC’s stable who have moved to Netflix. She will be reunited there with “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes and “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, both of whom have signed deals to make content for Netflix. Earlier this year, Netflix hired Tendo Nagenda, a top Disney movie executive for a senior role in its film unit.
Netflix created a new position to land Ms. Dungey. She will report to Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president of original content. Netflix said Ms. Dungey will work closely with Ms. Rhimes and Mr. Barris as well as with other top Netflix talent.
Ms. Dungey will also work with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who signed a development deal with Netflix.
During her 14 years at Disney both as a development executive and later as ABC president, Ms. Dungey was seen as a talent-friendly executive. In a written statement, Ms. Dungey said she was “drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix.”
Her hiring comes as Netflix continues to spend heavily on original content, with a projected bill of as much as $12 billion this year, including shows and movies that will be released in the future. The streaming service is facing greater competition for original and acquired content from Amazon Prime, HBO and other programmers.
Disney is set to become more of a head-on competitor to Netflix late next year when it launches its own subscription streaming service. That service, Disney+, will become the exclusive home for many Disney movies and other programming when Disney’s current licensing deal with Netflix runs its course. It will also include content from the newly acquired Fox assets.
AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia is separately planning its own streaming service, which is expected to be launched late next year.
Netflix has benefited from the desire for creative freedom in Hollywood. Mr. Barris negotiated an early exit from his television-production deal at ABC studios because of a falling out over “black-ish.” The show, about an upper-middle-class black family, has taken on political and cultural topics that have made ABC executives nervous at times, people familiar with the matter have said.
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
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