Following days of speculation that he got the job, Paul Lee was named President of ABC Entertainment Group, effective immediately, according to a mid-day announcement Friday by Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman Disney/ABC Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group. Lee is set to lead the network's executive session Sunday morning at the TCA press tour.
The former ABC Family president directly replaces Steve McPherson, who resigned from the position Tuesday afternoon. Speculation that Lee would take over for McPherson began Tuesday, and since then insiders also have been speculating
about who would replace Lee. An announcement regarding a new ABC Family President "will be made in the near future," according to Friday's announcement.
Sources speculated this week that former ABC and Lifetime exec Andrea Wong is certain to find a new spot amid the changes at the Disney/ABC TV Group, perhaps as a likely candidate to succeed Lee at ABC Family. Tom Zappala, Executive VP, Program Acquisitions and Scheduling, ABC Cable Networks Group, has also been mentioned as a "dark horse" to succeed Lee.
McPherson on Thursday hired lawyer Marty Singer to "deal with defamatory stories" in the media since his exit, according to a statement McPherson issued via his PR rep Stan Rosenfield.
In his new role, Lee has oversight of all creative and business operations for ABC Studios, as well as all development, programming, marketing and scheduling operations for ABC Entertainment.
In a statement, Sweeney said: "Paul was hired six years ago because of his great creative instincts and his ability to identify an audience and develop programming that resonates with them, and those same strengths are why he was
tapped for this new responsibility. Paul's success at ABC Family is as amazing as it is indisputable, and I'm looking forward to his continued success on ABC."
Lee added in a statement: "I'm proud of everything we achieved at ABC Family, and I'm looking forward to working with another great team at ABC Entertainment Group to bring even more compelling stories to viewers. ABC is a great network defined by creativity and known for delivering some of the best shows on television. I'm excited to be part of it, and deeply honored to be chosen for the unique opportunity to lead the network and the brand into the future."
Lee arrived at ABC Family in 2004. In conceiving the mission of the network, he launched a plan to target the young adult Millennial audience on multiple platforms with relatable programming like Kyle XY, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, Greek, Make It or Break It and Huge. The network is also home to 25 Days of Christmas.
According to Disney/ABC, under Lee, ABC Family had six+ years of consecutive growth. 2010-to-date, ABC Family ranks among the Top 5 cable networks in Prime in W18-49 (No. 5), W18-34 (No. 4), F12-34 (No. 2), Teens (No. 3) and Female
Teens (No. 3), and among the Top 10 in Total Viewers (No. 10), A18-49 (No. 10), A18-34 (No. 8) and V12-34 (No. 7). ABC Family has also grown its Prime audience by impressive margins: +74% in Total Viewers, +70% in A18-49 and +75% in W18-49. Among the network's core younger demo sets, the network's Prime delivery has also more than doubled over the past six+ years: +111% in A18-34, +115% in W18-34, +111% in V12-34.