In summer 2015, CBS was facing a rare Entertainment President opening when Nina Tassler informed her longtime boss, CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, of her intention to leave. Moonves reached out to one of the star executives within the company, then-Showtime president David Nevins, who was not interested.
Instead, Nevins leveraged his position to sign a new contract that made him CEO of Showtime. He sensed the upside potential at the pay cable network, one of the biggest profit centers for CBS Corp, and led the company’s expansion into streaming with the Showtime OTT platform, which also launched in summer 2015.
A little more than three years later, Nevins received another, bigger job offer from the CBS Corp CEO — this time from Moonves’ interim successor Joe Ianniello — and this time he said yes. Today, Nevins was announced as chief creative officer at CBS Corp.
The promotion had been rumored since the day Ianniello, a regarded business executive with no creative background, was named acting CEO in the wake of Moonves’ ouster. But the real conversations reportedly did not start until a couple of weeks ago.
Nevins is not leaving Showtime, where he is being given yet another promotion, to chairman. Instead, he is adding oversight of the CBS network’s entertainment division he once considered running, as well as CBS TV Studios, Showtime and, in conjunction with CBS Interactive, programming for CBS All Access. He also is replacing Moonves in overseeing CBS’ interest in The CW, a joint venture between CBS Corp and Warner Bros Entertainment.
Moonves was a rare TV executive who came up through the creative ranks and kept that role even after he became CEO of a media conglom. Nevins is now taking on that role, but made it clear in the announcement today he will rely on the current top executives at the divisions he oversees. They are all expected to continue in their current positions, including CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl and CBS TV Studios president David Stapf, who will now report to Nevins. He is not expected to micromanage every programming decision at CBS, CBS TV Studios and CBS All Access, but rather serve as a sounding board for the executives on the bigger ones.
“We have great strength in the creative leadership across the Company’s content divisions, and I am excited to get to work with the talented teams that run CBS’ programming services,” Nevins said in his quote.
Nevins’ latest promotion at Showtime and greatly expanded responsibilities at CBS Corp will likely mean more promotions for his senior team at the premium network. After his elevation to CEO, Nevins named Gary Levine as President of Programming and last year brought in Jana Winograde as President of Business Operations, West Coast. The two already had stepped up in a major way, handling day-to-day oversight of programming, business, production and distribution for the network.
Today’s announcement marks another turn in the career trajectory of Nevins that seems to tie together every step he had taken before.
Early on, he was on a path to a broadcast entertainment president job with his back-to-back gigs as SVP Primetime Series at NBC and EVP Programming and N2 programming executive at Fox. But he instead switched to the production side of the business as president of 20th Century Fox TV-based Imagine TV. After an eight-year stint at a studio, he returned to the network side but opted to go to pay cable as Showtime entertainment president, later expanding into streaming with the Showtime OTT platform.
Now he is getting to oversee programming in all of these areas: broadcast (CBS), pay cable (Showtime), studio/production (CBS TV Studios) and VOD (CBS All Access). And, judging by the reaction to Nevins’ promotion today, the highest step in the corporate ladder, CEO of a major media company — possibly even CBS — may not be out of reach either.