Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman Disney/ABC Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group today announced today that former ABC Family President Paul Lee has been named President, ABC Entertainment Group, effective immediately.
In his new role with the ABC Entertainment Group, 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 discussing the announcement, Sweeney stated: “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: “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 and revitalized it with an ambitious slate of original and acquired programs. 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 the biggest programming event on cable with “25 Days of Christmas.”
Under Lee, ABC Family had an amazing 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.
Under Lee’s leadership, ABC Family made the most of new platforms to connect viewers with content. The industry recognized this push for creativity and innovation on this front by awarding ABC Family a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television, as well as an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media the following year.
An announcement regarding a new ABC Family President will be made in the near future.
Prior to joining ABC Family, Lee was chief executive officer and founder of BBC America, and was responsible for the development and launch of the company in March 1998, starting as general manager and then chief operating officer. During his tenure, the hit comedy series “The Office” (British version) garnered two Golden Globes(r). Other shows under his supervision included the BBC’s “Changing Rooms,” which formatted into TLC’s signature show, “Trading Spaces,” “What Not to Wear” and the “Graham Norton Show.”
Before arriving stateside, Lee spent several years at the BBC, ultimately serving as channel editor for BBC Prime, the company’s 24-hour entertainment channel.
He started his career as a reporter assigned to Belfast, Northern Ireland, at a particularly critical period in the conflict. Upon returning to London, he segued into entertainment, where he became a producer, director and showrunner, going on to earn a BAFTA and a BANFF Award for the BBC documentary series “Arena” for his portrait of Woody Guthrie.
In 1990 Lee branched out into drama, traveling to Moscow to direct and produce “Oblomov,” starring George Wendt of “Cheers” fame. He also produced, directed and wrote TV movies. Before joining the BBC in 1984, he worked as an assistant production manager on novelas at the Brazilian national network Rede Globo in Rio de Janeiro.
Lee holds an MA in Modern Languages (Portuguese and Russian) from Oxford University in England.