UPDATED: Disney/ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney once again looked within the company to replace outgoing ABC Family president Paul Lee. A month after tapping Lee to take over ABC and ABC Studios as president of ABC Entertainment Group, she has picked Radio Disney GM Michael Riley as the new president of ABC Family. In addition to Lee’s promotion, Sweeney previously recruited a veteran Disney TV executive, Carolina Lightcap, to succeed Rich Ross as head of Disney Channels Worldwide. Just like Lightcap, Riley does not have domestic cable TV experience but he worked in Turner Broadcasting’s international divisions. I hear Riley impressed Disney/ABC brass with his accomplishments at Turner. Considered a future star executive, he was brought into the company fold and given the job that was available at the moment, heading Disney Radio, with the idea that he would eventually be moved to another position. Sweeney reportedly interviewed both internal and external candidates for the top ABC Family job but Riley’s background and his successful run at Disney radio ultimately sealed the deal for him.”He has good business and creative sense, and he is good at building and shepherding brands,” one insider said. Here is the official announcement:
Burbank, California, August 30, 2010 – Respected television and radio executive Michael Riley has been named president, ABC Family, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks & president, Disney/ABC Television Group, to whom he will report.
In this new position, Riley will have oversight of ABC Family’s original programming and acquisitions, franchise management, marketing, sales and operations, and be responsible for the overall strategic and creative direction for the channel.
In making the announcement, Sweeney stated, “Michael’s talent and drive are eclipsed only by the enthusiasm and passion he brings to every opportunity. I’m confident his unique set of skills and experience will help us further ABC Family’s amazing momentum.”
Riley added, “I am extremely proud to have been part of a great team at Radio Disney and very much look forward to joining the incredibly passionate and inventive team at ABC Family. Their success over the past few years has been exceptional, driven by innovative storytelling, unique characters and iconic branding, and I’m honored to be given the opportunity to help build this amazing Millennial brand.”
Coming off its most watched year ever in 2009 and pacing at record levels in 2010, over the past seven years ABC Family has grown its Prime audience by impressive margins, increasing by 76% in Total Viewers (1.4 million vs. 797,000), by 70% in A18-49 (627,000 vs. 368,000) and by 78% in W18-49 (409,000 vs. 230,000). Among the net’s core younger demo sets, the net’s Prime delivery has more than doubled over the past seven years: +115% in A18-34 (348,000 vs. 162,000), +122% in W18-34 (238,000 vs. 107,000), +115% in V12-34 (584,000 vs. 271,000) and +124% in F12-34 (413,000 vs. 184,000).
Prior to this announcement, Riley served as senior vice president and general manager, Radio Disney, where he oversaw the strategic management of the Radio Disney network and its portfolio of 36 owned radio stations, leading them to record ratings through original multi-platform content achievements. He joined The Walt Disney Company in April 2008. An announcement regarding a new general manager for Radio Disney will be made in the near future.
Previously Riley was senior vice president and general manager, Turner Broadcasting System, Europe, Middle East and Africa. In this post he was responsible for developing the CNN commercial strategy and the overall brand strategy for the entertainment channels Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TCM, TNT and Adult Swim in Germany, Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa. Other key responsibilities included the management of advertising sales, marketing and interactive commerce functions, as well as supporting the company’s programming development and acquisition strategy.
From 2004-06 he was vice president and general manager, Turner Broadcasting System France, with responsibility for all Turner channels in that market. From 2000-03, he was vice president, Turner Classic Movies, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and from 1997-2000 he was vice president, Business Development, Television and Interactive Media, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies.
From 1996-97, Riley was a strategy consultant with the global advertising and media conglomerate WPP Group in London and New York, where he conducted strategic reviews of the group’s specialist communication companies, including Ogilvy and Mather, J Walter Thompson. He was a business consultant for the Canadian Pacific conglomerate in Toronto from 1992-95, working across its Strategy and Information division on a range of interests including hotels, real estate, oil production, resorts and railroads. Riley, who is fluent in French, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and raised in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.