Bickley will fill the role being vacated by Zai Bennett, who is leaving the UK public broadcaster next month to join pay TV platform BSkyB as director of Sky Atlantic.
He announced his departure as BBC Three boss following the news that the youth-skewed channel will transition from a broadcast to an online service as part of wider cost cuts at the BBC.
A former commissioner across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three, Bickley is being upped from her current role of head of commissioning for documentaries and features at the channel. In that position her credits include Barely Legal Drivers, Extreme OCD Camp and Unsafe Sex and the City.
The BBC said that Bickley will “be responsible for the continued running of BBC Three as a television service, with channel commissioning and scheduling continuing as normal.”
Damian Kavanagh will, the BBC said, continue to lead the work to design and implement the new BBC Three online service that will launch in autumn 2015.
Bickley steps into her new position in mid-June. She said: “I have worked on BBC Three for many years, watching this innovative channel grow. Zai and the team have built a vibrant, exciting and diverse BBC Three with amazing reach and I feel privileged to be asked to follow in his footsteps. I will continue to navigate Three through the year ahead with some amazing new shows to come.”
BBC director of television, Danny Cohen, added: “Sam has a deep understanding of the BBC Three audience and a passion for reaching young viewers. This period running the BBC Three television service will allow her to put all of this skill and experience to powerful use.”