EXCLUSIVE: Tom Ascheim steps down as chairman of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classic two years after joining WarnerMedia and one month after that company merged with Discovery. He is one of two senior programming executives on the WarnerMedia side of the business who are leaving after their roles were cut following the merger, along with Brett Weitz, managing director of TNT, TBS and TruTV. The two will remain for a brief transition period.
In his role, Ascheim, a respected veteran television executive, oversaw Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, the Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation studios in Los Angeles, and had global responsibility for the Turner Classic Movies channel. Iconic IP, series and characters under his care included Looney Tunes, DC Animated Superheroes, Rick and Morty, Craig of the Creek, Hanna-Barbera Classic Library, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo. He then added overseeing children’s and family programs for HBO Max as well as Warner Bros. Harry Potter Wizarding World franchise and properties.
“I’ve been blessed to have two incredibly exciting years rejuvenating some of the world’s most iconic franchises and IPs, and helping to create a holistic vision for kids, young adults and classics within Warner Bros. “Ascheim said in a statement. “While now is the time for me to move on, I hope the new management team at Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to nurture future generations of fans and the incredible teams that are so committed to these brands. “
Following the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger, Discovery’s Kathleen Finch expanded her portfolio by taking over ad-supported linear networks from WarnerMedia, including TNets, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang.
In a note to his staff (you can read it in full below), Ascheim addressed the post-merger restructuring that led to his exit.
“Mergers and acquisitions are never easy transitions, and our new management team has decided to organize our KYAC team differently, bringing studios under WBTV and linear networks back to Kathleen’s group,” he said. . “While I know this new setup will allow all of you to continue doing amazing work, it doesn’t match the vision I had set for myself.”
The new direction of Warner Bros. Discovery has a goal of $3 billion in savings from the merger of the two companies.
Former Freeform President Ascheim left the Disney Network at the start of the pandemic to join WarnerMedia in early April 2020. He reported to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff (later CEO of Studios and Networks), who left the day the Discovery merger was completed, in a reunion for the two veteran executives who had worked together at Nickelodeon.
Content that fell under Ascheim’s jurisdiction is distributed in 192 countries around the world. The new division’s networks are present in 500 million homes and broadcast through more than 65 channels in 31 languages.
Ascheim joined Freeform while still ABC Family in December 2013 and oversaw its name change to Freeform. Original series on Freeform include hit comedy Cultivated; dramas The Bold Type, Siren, Good Trouble, Party of Five; most recent addition, Homeland: Fort Salem; and the next Last summer produced by Jessica Biel.
A popular executive, Ascheim has spent much of his career addressing younger audiences. He joined the millennial-focused Freeform after serving as general manager of Nickelodeon Television, chief strategy officer of Sesame Workshop and executive vice president of Sesame Learning.
Ascheim started as a production assistant in New York and at Silver Screen Partners, which financed films like The little Mermaid and beauty and the beastst, before getting an MBA. After a stint as a financial analyst, he joined Viacom in 1990 as vice president of business development and media products for Nickelodeon, where he was responsible for long-range and strategic planning, market and the annual budget.
After a series of internal promotions, he served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Nickelodeon Digital Television Networks and ultimately Senior Vice President and General Manager of Nickelodeon Television, where he managed the full portfolio, including Nickelodeon, Nick @Nite, Nike Jr. and Nick’s three digital channels. networks. He led the negotiation between Nick and Sesame Workshop, which resulted in the creation of Noggin, on which he worked closely with Sarnoff, and oversaw The N, a channel dedicated to serving millennials.
In 2007, Ascheim left Viacom to join Newsweek as CEO. During his four-year stint there, he oversaw all global operations and the company’s magazines and sale to The Daily Beast.
“I’ve been blessed to spend two incredibly exciting years rejuvenating some of the world’s most iconic franchises and IPs, and helping to create a holistic vision for kids, young adults and classics within Warner Bros. While now is the time for me to move on, I hope the new management team at Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to nurture future generations of fans and the incredible teams that are so committed to these brands.
Here is Ascheim’s internal memo:
We will announce in a moment that I have decided to leave the company, but first I wanted to share this news with you all. Mergers and acquisitions are never easy transitions, and our new management team decided to organize our KYAC team differently, moving studios under WBTV and linear networks to Kathleen’s group. While I know this new setup will allow you all to continue doing amazing work, it doesn’t match the vision I have set for myself.
Goodbyes are hard, so I’ll be brief. It has been an absolute privilege to work with each of you over the past two years. It hasn’t always been easy, but you persevered when the winds were against us and continued to create treasure troves of content and affinity for our brands that I know will continue to surprise and delight generations to come. to come.
I leave you all with nothing but admiration and pride and I will heckle you from afar with love.
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