Tom Ascheim Tom Ascheim

Warner Bros. has a new animation executive: Tom Ascheim, who has been named its president of global kids, young adults, and classics (a role shaped by a corporate reorganization last year).

With the entertainment sector in sudden upheaval and Warnermedia’s HBO Max streaming platform around the corner, he joins the company at a high-stakes time.

Here are the details of Ascheim’s appoinment:

  • In his new role, which starts on July 1, Ascheim will have oversight of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, and the Turner Classic Movies channel, and will also manage the studios of Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation in L.A. He is replacing Christina Miller, and will report to Ann Sarnoff, CEO of Warner Bros.
  • The executive has plenty of experience in kids’ and young adult programming. He spent 17 years at Nickelodeon, working his way up to manage its complete portfolio of channels. In 2013, he joined the Disney-owned ABC Family, rebranding it as Freeform. In between, he served as chief strategy officer of Sesame Workshop.
  • Ascheim’s appointment comes just ahead of the May launch of HBO Max. Animation, and kids’ and young adult shows, will be central to its library — fittingly, the platform will feature Sesame Street. Ascheim has relevant experience here, too: at Freeform, he helped develop the channel’s streaming service.
  • Sarnoff, who previously worked with Ascheim at Nickelodeon, said: “I am excited that Tom will be joining Warner Bros. He is an excellent executive and collaborative leader with an impressive track record and deep experience in the kids and young adult worlds. I had the benefit of seeing Tom’s skills first-hand when we were at Nickelodeon and really look forward to working with him again.”
  • Ascheim added, “I am thrilled to be joining Warner Bros. and especially excited to be working with the deeply talented folks at Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, TCM, and Warner Bros. Animation. I’ve been watching their work since I was a child and it’s thrilling to be part of such a storied group. I’m equally excited to be working again with Ann Sarnoff who remains one of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
  • The news comes against the backdrop of a leadership reshuffle at Warnermedia (which is owned by AT&T). Last week, Jason Kilar was appointed its CEO, effective from May 1. Kilar is primarily a tech executive with a proven track record in streaming: he served as Hulu’s first CEO from 2007 to 2013, and also co-founded and led the now-defunct Youtube rival Vessel.
  • In 2011, while at Hulu, Kilar wrote an infamous blog post in which he argued that streaming would replace linear broadcasting as the future of tv. The memo infuriated traditional networks — including Hulu’s then-owners NBC, ABC, and Fox — and some believed Kilar would be sacked (this Hollywood Reporter piece from the time has more). His argument seems prescient today, and now a legacy corporation has hired him, thus making a strong statement about where its priorities lie.

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