Chris McCarthy’s rise at Viacom continues. Less than five months after he was elevated to president of VH1 and Logo TV, he has added flagship MTV to his portfolio. As President of MTV, VH1 and Logo, he will continue to report to Doug Herzog, President of the Viacom Music & Entertainment Group.
It was Herzog’s move to give McCarthy oversight of MTV, with MTV president Sean Atkins reporting to him, that led to Atkins’ decision to step down. (He will remain as a consultant through January).
“Chris has infused every brand he’s led with creativity, strategic clarity and distinctive talent – driving results that defy this extraordinarily competitive landscape,” said Herzog. “MTV is an iconic brand full of opportunity, and Chris has demonstrated the vision and ability to grow its expansive reach and powerful cultural impact.”
McCarthy is being tasked with leading MTV to a ratings turnaround similar to the one he has shepherded at VH1. It won’t be easy. MTV’s ratings have been sliding for the past half-decade, down almost 50% in adults 18-49 since 2011, when it was a Top 10 network. These days MTV has fallen outside of the Top 20 and sometime out of the Top 30, ranking lower than once-also-ran sibling VH1.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead MTV, the place where I grew up and learned from some of the most gifted, creative and genuine leaders,” said McCarthy. “The power of the MTV brand is its ability to let go everything it knows and reinvent for the next generation of youth, and I’m excited to push the boundaries of what it can be in this transformative time.”
This marks McCarthy’s return to MTV. He began his career at Viacom in marketing at mtvU before rising to General Manager for the college network. He then served as EVP for MTV, overseeing strategy, planning, and tentpole events, before being promoted to GM of MTV’s digital networks, leading Logo and MTV2 to a ratings upswing before he took over VH1 in August 2015 in addition to his GM duties at Logo.
Under McCarthy, VH1 established itself as the fastest-growing top 25 entertainment network on cable and delivered its biggest year-over-year ratings growth in nearly 15 years in fiscal 2016. VH1 currently has three of the top five unscripted series on cable including top-rated Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.
With McCarthy at the helm, Logo TV was the only network in all of cable to record 10 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth. He established the network’s documentary division and shepherded ratings and pop culture juggernaut RuPaul’s Drag Race, which recently won the network’s first Emmy for best reality host.