ABC Family president Michael Riley, who's been at Disney since 2008 and head of the youth-targeted cabler since 2010, is leaving for parts unknown as soon as Disney/ABC television group head Anne Sweeney can find a replacement, the network said today.
The decision was characterized as Riley's by the network. “Michael has been a great leader over the past six years at Radio Disney and ABC Family, and his contributions will be felt for years to come," said Sweeney. "While we understand and support his decision to leave, it will be sad to see him go."
Riley's partner accepted a position abroad—in London, according to sources familiar with the matter—and Riley had been splitting time between L.A. and Britain. Post-ABC Family, Adweek's sister pub The Hollywood Reporter says he will be looking for a gig with a greater international focus. It's anyone's guess as to who will be next in line to run the network—internally, programming head Kate Juergens would seem like a logical choice, but there's no guarantee Disney won't hire from outside, or move a promising exec like Disney Junior's recently promoted kids' programming whiz Nancy Kanter over to ABC Family.
Riley succeeded Paul Lee at the network; while not all of Riley's green-lights bore fruit (Bunheads continues to struggle despite kind reception from critics), many, like Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters, began hitting their stride as recently as this summer. The departure comes as a surprise—Riley made headlines as recently as this week with a new horror drama on the network starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Prior to his time at Disney, Riley worked for Turner, where he developed commercial strategy for CNN and overall brand strategy for the group's entertainment networks.