Sascha Schwingel has been named the new CEO of German TV production giant UFA, replacing Nico Hofmann, who will become chair of the Berlin-based company behind such series as Generation War, Deutschland ’83 and Ku’damm 56. UFA is part of global production giant Fremantle.
Hofmann, who has been CEO of UFA since 2017, joined the company in 1998, setting up UFA’s serial fiction group teamWorx (now UFA Fiction). He is largely credited with helping turn UFA into Germany’s leading television producer, with shows across all genres and on air on virtually every German channel and streaming service.
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The group consists of four production units: UFA Fiction, which produces high-end drama such as Deutschland ’83, Charité and the recent Disney+ series Sam – A Saxon; soaps division UFA Serial Drama, whose long-running serials include Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten and Unter Uns; UFA Show & Factual, which produce shiny floor shows including the local versions of Got Talent and Idol in Germany; and UFA Documentary, whose recent non-fiction productions include the Amazon doc series All or Nothing: The National Team in Katar, about the German soccer team’s recent, dismal World Cup performance. UFA programs reach an average of more than 30 million viewers weekly across all platforms.
“After 26 years with Bertelsmann and eight years at the helm of UFA I have decided, together with [Fremantle Group CEO] Jennifer Mullin and [Fremantle Group COO and CEO Continental Europe] Andrea Scrosati, to pass on the leadership of UFA,” Hofmann said in a statement. “In Sascha, who is a friend and colleague for many years, we have found an experienced and highly talented successor.” Calling UFA his “pride and joy, a great production company with a great team,” Hofmann added that he has “high hopes for the future — a future where I am happy to take on the role of chairman.”
Schwingel is a veteran of the German media scene, most recently serving as deputy chief content officer at commercial broadcaster RTL Deutschland. RTL, like Fremantle, is owned by German media giant Bertelsmann. Schwingel was previously CEO of RTL Group-owned network Vox. He began his career under Hofmann at teamWorx, overseeing such event series as Die Sturmflut and Dresden. He later moved to ARD Degeto, the production division of public broadcaster ARD, where he worked as a producer on such shows as Babylon Berlin and Gladbeck.
“I would like to personally thank Nico for his hard work and commitment to UFA for the past 26 years,” said Mullin in a statement. “With him at the helm, UFA has maintained its position as a leading German media company and a vital part of the Fremantle Group. We are delighted he will become chairman and stay within the Fremantle family. At the same time, I am so pleased to welcome Sascha back to the business and look forward to working with him to shape and drive UFA’s future.”
Added Scrosati: “Sascha is an innovative, creative and savvy leader, and a great choice to lead UFA into the future. UFA plays a huge part in the success of Fremantle globally, as a true portfolio business which produces hit after hit across all genres.”
Schwingel called taking over as CEO of UFA “a huge privilege,” adding that returning to the company where he started his career “feels like coming home.” He thanked Hofmann “for all the great foundations he has laid,” saying he looked forward to “building on this success with the team.”
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