Looping a set of reins on a shooting star would be no easy feat. But that’s essentially what Disney/ ABC TV Group honcho Anne Sweeney tasked former Radio Disney chief Michael Riley with doing when she named him president of ABC Family last August.
Riley comes to ABC Family at a time when the slate of originals aimed at the “millennial” audience launched by his predecessor Paul Lee is clicking like never before. The net had its best primetime ever in 2010 across all of its target demos.
Part of Riley’s plan to continue directing the trajectory upward is to have at least nine original series on the schedule this year, a record. In addition to five returning shows, Riley plans to launch at least three newcomers that he sees as companions to hits Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars and Melissa & Joey. The newbies are designed to sync up with the net’s brand, which Riley describes as “authentic,” “optimistic” storytelling about families and relationships, with “heart and humor.”
Expect Riley to also ramp up social media and interactive activity. It's his forte, having synced up his interactive strategies for Radio Disney with those throughout the wider Disney Channels group while head of Radio Disney.