Former Netflix Exec Tara Duncan Named Freeform President

She replaces Tom Ascheim, who left the network last month

Tara Duncan headshot
Tara Duncan, who just signed a Hulu producing deal last month, starts at Freeform on June 8. Rick Proctor
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Key insight:

Freeform has found its new president, following Tom Ascheim’s departure last month.

Fomer Netflix executive Tara Duncan has been named the network’s new chief. She’ll oversee strategic planning, brand development, content strategy, original programming, production, scheduling, finance, research, marketing and communications at Freeform, beginning on June 8.

“Tara is an exceptionally skilled executive and a seasoned producer who is bringing a wealth of experience, across linear channels and streaming platforms, to her new role,” said Dana Walden, chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, in a statement. “Getting her inside of Walt Disney Television has been a priority and I am thrilled she will be leading the formidable Freeform team.”

Just last month, Duncan had set an overall producing deal at Hulu, where she had worked on projects including an adaptation of Zakiya Dalila Harris’ novel, The Other Black Girl. She previously worked at Netflix as a senior creative executive, overseeing shows like Orange is the New Black and Narcos.

This makes her the rare executive to move from streaming to linear at a time when so many of her peers are exiting network roles to work at streaming services.

“The programming on Freeform makes me think, laugh and feel good at a time when being optimistic matters most,” said Duncan in a statement. “It is incredibly exciting to join the Freeform team and continue forging a path for fun, daring storytelling.”

Duncan succeeds Ascheim, who had led Freeform for more than six years before stepping down last month. He moved to WarnerMedia, where he is now president of global kids, young adults and classics, overseeing Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.

Ascheim oversaw the network’s rebrand from ABC Family to Freeform, a name he thought better reflected its edgier content for young adults. During his tenure, Freeform grew to become a more key component of Disney’s expanding TV portfolio.

Arriving in the middle of the pandemic, Duncan will have her work cut out for her, at least until production is able to resume. One of the network’s signature series, Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish, was supposed to return this summer for the second half of Season 3, but has instead been delayed until 2021.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.