Schwartz, who is leaving ViacomCBS after seven years at the helm of Pop and its predecessor TV Guide Network, will start June 15 and report to CEO Bob Carrigan, who joined Audible last December.
In addition to running Pop, the ViacomCBS cable network known for Schitt’s Creek, Schwartz also has held executive posts at MSG Media and Bell Media. As an SVP at Fuse (which was formerly owned by MSG), he shepherded shows including Billy on the Street.
“As Audible continues to expand its focus on premium audio storytelling and entertainment across all formats and genres, Brad’s highly successful track record, expertise and stellar relationships in the entertainment community will be integral to our aggressive content efforts and plans,” Carrigan said. “Brad brings not only a wealth of experience but an unwavering focus on innovation, creativity and customer delight.”
After reorginzations related to the merger of Viacom and CBS, which closed last December, Pop shifted to the ViacomCBS’ Entertainment and Youth Group and came under the purview of Chris McCarthy. Schwartz stayed on at ViacomCBS even as Pop moved away from original scripted programming, canceling most of its slate, including Flack, the series with Anna Paquin that was just scooped up by Amazon.
Schwartz is the latest network head to depart ViacomCBS since the merger and consolidation of cable assets, joining Comedy Central’s Kent Alterman and Smithsonian’s Tom Hayden.
In the official announcement of his new role, Schwartz said he has been an Audible subscriber “for years.” He name-checked talent involved in projects that have been released or put into production, including Kevin Hart, Colin Kaepernick, Laura Dern, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Griffin, Common, Meghan McCain and Neil Gaiman.
“Audible continues to forge new paths in bringing premium storytelling and original IP to the ever-expanding audio segment of our industry,” Schwartz said. “Audible’s creative leadership, commitment to innovation, future-leaning focus, customer-centricity and ability to give artists of all kinds the opportunity to tell stories that matter are at the center of its success.”
Audiobook sales in 2018 brought in $940 million in revenue, up 24.5% from 2017, according to the Audio Publishers Association. Audible has leveraged its position to secure rights to original work from top authors, especially non-fiction A-listers like Michael Lewis, Robert Caro and Ada Calhoun. Audio rights, years ago considered an after-thought in book contracts, have become increasingly valuable.
Audible founder and executive chairman Don Katz highlighted early programming at the company featuring Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais. “With elite talent of all stripes now flocking to the form, we’re on the cusp of a new ‘golden age’ for the Audible artistic medium,” he said, “and I’m thrilled we’ll have Brad at the helm to drive the creation of new and distinctive listening experiences for our many millions of customers around the world.”
Schwartz took the top job at Pop in 2013, when it was a joint venture between CBS and Lionsgate known as the TV Guide Network. He shepherded its rebrand and foray into original programming, landing Schitt’s Creek and, toward the latter part of his tenure, acquiring Norman Lear’s LatinX reboot of One Day at a Time after it was canceled by Netflix. Pop is now part of ViacomCBS.
At Fuse, Schwartz also steered the network through a rebranding effort during a two-year stint. Before that, Schwartz was GM of a suite of eight youth and pop culture cable networks in Canada, including MTV Canada, MuchMusic, MTV2 and MuchMore. He launched and oversaw Vevo in Canada and was an early champion of the now-ubiquitous concept of the “after-show,” introducing The Hills After Show, which aired across North America.
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