Viacom Media Networks is undergoing another round of consolidation into four brand groups: Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land under Kent Alterman; MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo under Chris McCarthy; BET Networks and Nickelodeon.
Kevin Kay will step down as President, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT following a transition period after almost three decades at Viacom. That group is now being split into two, with Paramount Network and TV Land, as well as Bellator, joining Comedy Central under Comedy Central president Alterman. The music-driven CMT will join President Chris McCarthy’s current portfolio of MTV, VH1 and Logo. Alterman and McCarthy will continue to report to CEO Bob Bakish. There are no changes to BET Networks or Nickelodeon.
“These changes mark the next step in the ongoing evolution of our company as we continue to ensure we’re making the most of our great assets and resources, and operating as nimbly and efficiently as we can,” said Bakish. “Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land share an original content strategy anchored in scripted programming, and CMT – with its deep roots in music and unscripted programming – is a natural partner for MTV and VH1. Kent and Chris have been driving forces behind Viacom’s flagship strategy, re-energizing and growing two of our most iconic brands, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
While Comedy Central and Paramount Network have been leading scripted brands for Viacom, TV Land, branded a reinforcing brand in the 2017 restructuring, has been shedding original programming over the past two years and relying more heavily on off-network content.
This is the latest move for CMT, also a reinforcing brand, and TV Land. For CMT, it is reunion with MTV and VH1 — the three networks were once part of MTV Networks under Van Toffler. After his 2003 exit, MTV Networks was split up, with Doug Herzog taking over MTV and VH1 and Cyma Zarghami getting CMT, in addition to TV Land. After more rounds of restructuring, CMT and TV Land eventually were grouped with Spike under Kay.
Kay is the latest veteran top Viacom executive to leave since the January 2017 restructuring under Bakish. Recent departures have included BET Networks and Nickelodeon toppers Debra Lee and Cyma Zarghami, respectively. Kay’s Viacom tenure started at Nickelodeon where he oversaw such series as All That, Kenan & Kel and The Adventures of Pete & Pete, as well as developing and greenlighting SpongeBob SquarePants. During his tenure at Spike, he oversaw the launch of The Ultimate Fighter, Lip Sync Battle, Bar Rescue and Ink Master, as well as the expansion of Bellator. More recently, Kay and his team launched Paramount Network, which replaced Spike in January 2018.
“Over the course of his career at Viacom, Kevin’s creative vision and gift for telling great stories have made a lasting impact,” Bakish added. “Thanks to the efforts of Kevin and his team, we have successfully established Paramount Network as a home for premium content, and TV Land and CMT continue to be dominant forces in the audiences they serve. I’m so grateful for the many contributions they have made in evolving and strengthening these world-class brands for their next chapter.”
Alterman and McCarthy both have been rising stars at Viacom for the last few years. He has served as President of Comedy Central since 2016 after previously holding the position of President, Original Programming at the network. Since his return to Comedy Central in 2010, Alterman has launched such buzzy series as Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, Broad City, Drunk History; he also oversaw the relaunch of The Daily Show with new host Trevor Noah. He also shepherded a global podcast network and a 24-hour satellite radio station, along with music and comedy festival Clusterfest. Comedy Central was one of only three Top 20 networks to maintain or grow ratings among Adults 18-49 across the recently-concluded fiscal year and has maintained or grown share for 18 consecutive months. Comedy Central streamed nearly 4.7 billion videos across digital and social platforms in FY2018, a year-over-year increase of +63%.
McCarthy was elevated to President of MTV, VH1 and Logo in October 2016 after serving as President of VH1 and Logo. In his tenure, MTV now is the fastest growing network in cable and number one with its 18-34 audience, while VH1 is riding three consecutive years of ratings growth. At MTV, McCarthy has engineered the network’s longest streak of ratings growth in seven years with such series as Siesta Key, Ex on the Beach, the new Jersey Shore and Floribama Shore. MTV has a social footprint of more than 350 million followers and doubled video streams in 2018. McCarthy also recently launched MTV Studios to develop original series for partners across SVOD and premium TV.
Here is Bakish’s memo announcing the changes:
Over the past two years, we have made a lot of progress in our efforts to become a stronger, more agile organization. We’ve continued to work to break down silos and more strategically use our resources, to make the most of the great assets we have, and to help fund our future.
Today we are taking the next step forward in our evolution, with a new, simplified structure for Viacom Media Networks. Effective immediately, we will further consolidate our brand groups to four from five:
Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land
MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo
As a result, Paramount Network, Bellator and TV Land will operate alongside Comedy Central under Kent Alterman, President, and Chris McCarthy will oversee MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. There are no changes to BET and Nickelodeon.
As we’ve done a lot of work to clarify our brands’ filters and positioning, a few things have become clear. Paramount Network and TV Land share with Comedy Central a robust slate of scripted programming – with TV Land and Comedy Central, in particular, focused on comedy. By working as a team, all three networks can make the most out of their complementary expertise and resources. Similarly, CMT – with its deep roots in music and unscripted programming – is a natural partner for MTV and VH1.
Kent and Chris have been driving forces behind Viacom’s flagship strategy, re-energizing and growing two of our most iconic brands. I think they’re perfectly positioned to help Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT start their next chapters.
Unfortunately, however, this new structure does mean some hard changes. A number of senior-level colleagues will be leaving, including Kevin Kay, who is stepping down as President, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. I am so grateful that Kevin has generously agreed to stay on for a period to help ensure a smooth transition.
Kevin is a passionate storyteller whose legacy at Viacom spans more than two decades and seven networks, and I’m thankful to him and his team for their many contributions. At Nickelodeon, Kevin left his mark by overseeing a string of hits that included All That, Kenan & Kel and The Adventures of Pete & Pete – as well as developing and greenlighting SpongeBob SquarePants. And during his tenure at Spike, he oversaw the launch of fan-favorites like The Ultimate Fighter, Lip Sync Battle, Bar Rescue and Ink Master, as well as the expansion of Bellator.
Most recently, he and his team undertook the huge task of launching Paramount Network. Thanks to their hard work, Paramount Network quickly established itself as a home for premium content, achieving early critical and ratings success with the high-quality, cinematic original series Waco and Yellowstone – the latter of which is now the second-most-watched cable series of 2018. All of this while also ensuring that TV Land and CMT continue to be dominant forces in the very important audiences they reach.
We know there is a lot of change, but we continue to make important progress with each step we take. Thank you, as always, for your continued support as we transform this company for the future.