Abraham was born in Lincolnshire. Both his parents immigrated to the UK in the 1950s – his mother from Belgium and his father from Calcutta. He moved with his parents and sister to Essex in the 1970s where he attended local state schools, before going to Oxford University in 1981 to study Modern History at Magdalen College.
Abraham began his working life at the advertising agency Benton & Bowles in London in 1984 where he was a trainee account manager. He moved to the creative agency Collett Dickenson Peace (CDP) with writers and art directors such as Indra Sinha and Neil Godfrey. In 1990 he was offered a position at the London office of the Californian creative agency Chiat/Day – launched by MT Rainey.
In 1995, Jay Chiat sold his agency network to Omnicom with the intention to globally merge Chiat/Day with TBWA. In the UK, client conflicts prompted an employee buy-out of the business, led by Andy Law and Abraham, who became Chief Operating Officer. The story of how St. Luke's became an unconventional employee-owned company was told in Law's book Open Minds, in the Harvard Business Review and in a controversial Channel 4 Cutting Edge Documentary.
Abraham became the general manager of Discovery Networks Europe in 2001.
Abraham became general manager of TLC in 2005, a US cable channel available in over 90m US households.
In 2007, Abraham became the chief executive of UKTV – a leading multichannel portfolio in British television. At the time UKTV was a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media. He led the launches of Dave, Alibi, Watch, Yesterday and Really.
Abraham succeeded interim chief executive Anne Bulford in May 2010 following a period of relative uncertainty at Channel 4 involving a debate about the organisation's self-sufficiency, leading to what was described as a 'public begging bowl' strategy. Abraham was appointed by incoming chairman Lord Terry Burns.
Abraham became immediately involved in programming issues such as whether Jonathan Ross should return, and in defending a controversial Frankie Boyle sketch about Katie Price's family.
Abraham assembled a new leadership team including appointing Jay Hunt from BBC One as chief creative officer to revive programming. Over the next few years, Channel 4's programmes included 24 Hours in A&E, The 2012 Paralympic Games, The Grand National, Black Mirror, Gogglebox, The Last Leg, Humans, The Undateables, Educating Yorkshire, The Island, Indian Summers, Southcliffe, UKIP; The First 100 Days, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, Benefits Street, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and MP's For Hire.
In 2010 and 2014, Channel 4 was named Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, and by Broadcast magazine in 2016.
In late 2015, Abraham and Hunt struck a three-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone to broadcast Formula One on Channel 4. In early 2015, Channel 4 launched new online hub All 4, offering live streaming, shortform and 'box-set' content, and replacing 4oD. In early 2016, a new foreign language drama service called Walter Presents was launched on All 4.
Abraham increased funding for Film4 in 2010 and again in 2016 and the film division led by Tessa Ross and subsequently David Kosse. In 2016 Abraham appointed Daniel Battsek to lead Film 4 following the leaving of David Kosse to join STX.
In 2010, Abraham and Burns pursued a bid to acquire Channel 5. This was ultimately secured by Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell.
Abraham's other business initiatives at Channel 4 have included: a new advertising sales partnership with UKTV (and later, BT Sport). A new on-line data strategy which has over 13 million registered users across the UK and the launch of 4seven. In 2011 Abraham hired Jonathan Allen as Sales Director who built a team than won Sales Team of the Year in 2015.
Dan Brooke also joined the Channel 4 as director of marketing and communications and then Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. Channel 4’s in-house agency 4Creative have created campaigns such as Meet The Superhumans in 2012 and the rebranding of Channel 4 in 2015 created by the film-maker Jonathan Glazer.
In June 2017, it was announced that Abraham would leave later that year and would be succeeded by Alex Mahon as the CEO of Channel 4.
In May 2011, Abraham set out his planned vision for Channel 4 at a Royal Television Society event in which he stressed the importance of its organisational independence and how it would keep innovating both editorially and technologically. On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of Channel 4 in 2012, he delivered a speech at the Freeword Centre London entitled: Freedom of Expression and Free Television.
In 2013 Abraham chaired the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention during which he announced a new £20m Growth Fund for UK independent production companies. This fund has invested in companies such as Lightbox, True North, Arrow, Eleven Films and production entities involving Sacha Baron Cohen and David Coulthard.
In 2014, Abraham delivered the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The theme of the lecture addressed the continuing importance of public service broadcasting in the UK in an age of global and technological consolidation. The lecture caused debate within the media industry and was characterised by some as a critique of American ownership of UK media assets.
Following the May 2015 general election, Abraham, together with Channel 4 chairman Terry Burns, has spoken out about the potential threats to public service broadcasting and to the UK creative economy in the event of the privatisation of Channel 4.
Abraham is a Vice President of the Royal Television Society, a member of BAFTA and has sat on the board of Creative Skillset since 2008.
Abraham lives in London, is a father to two adult children and partner to Tiina Lee, Head of Global Markets and Deputy Chief Executive for Deutsche Bank UK.