ABC Family‘s new president is Tom Ascheim. Ascheim, who has served as EVP and General Manager of Nickelodeon Television and CEO of Newsweek, will start immediately. He succeeds Michael Riley, who announced his departure in September to relocate to the UK. The hire of Ascheim comes after an exhaustive search led by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, that included vetting a number of internal Disney candidates (Riley also came from within the company) as well as outside ones. Those considered included Riley’s No. 2, EVP Original Programming and Development and Chief Creative Officer Kate Juergens, though, like she did when Riley’s predecessor Paul Lee left, she is expected to remain focused on the network’s programming as Sweeney reportedly searched for an executive with a strong business background. Ascheim certainly is a surprising choice. He wasn’t on people’s radar and is better known for his rocky tenure as Newsweek CEO than his TV experience. But he was on Sweeney’s radar from working together at Nickelodeon, leading to his dark-horse hire in the top ABC Family position over established TV executives who met for the job. “I knew Tom during my time at Nickelodeon, and always thought he was an incredibly smart, strategic executive,” said Sweeney, to whom Aschem will report. “Since then, he has only reinforced my opinion of his abilities. Whether in print, television, or the financial sector, Tom has gone from success to success.”
Ascheim was a financial analyst before joining Viacom in 1990. His first role there was VP of Nickelodeon Business Development and Media Products and, after a series of internal promotions, he served as EVP and General Manager of Nickelodeon Digital Television Networks and ultimately as EVP and General Manager of Nickelodeon Television, where he managed the complete portfolio including Nickelodeon, Nick@Nite, Nike Jr., and Nick’s three digital networks. In 2007, Ascheim left Viacom to join Newsweek as CEO. He was at the helm for three years until becoming the first casualty after the merger with The Daily Beast. Ascheim then joined Sesame Workshop as Chief Strategy Officer, and served as EVP of Sesame Learning until he was let go in June when Sesame Workshop cut 10% of its workforce. He currently serves as President and Founder of the consulting firm TEA Lane Media.