CBS’ Joe Ianniello Loses Oversight Of Showtime & Pop TV To Viacom’s Bob Bakish In Merger Chess Moves; David Nevins Serves Two Kings, For Now

By Dominic Patten, Dade Hayes

CBS; Shutterstock

Joe Ianniello might be the new chairman and CEO of CBS as part of the new ViacomCBS, but the longtime executive has ceded some Showtime territory to big boss Bob Bakish as Viacom and the home of Blue Bloods hooked up again after a 13-year break. The move leaves David Nevins now answering to two kings, at least for the immediate future.

Under the structure of the newly reunited ViacomCBS Inc, once acting CBS CEO Ianniello will run the CBS unit of the parent company, which is valued at about $30 billion. However, with speculation that Ianniello will likely only be around until his recently extended contract expires and the deal is approved by regulators, it is a carved-up CBS, to put it mildly. A source familiar with the situation noted Ianniello’s contract has just been extended through 2021 in the past few days, but conceded many details of the new organizational structure have yet to be ironed out.

Officially, Ianniello “will oversee all CBS-branded assets in his new role,” according to the uber-release that went out this morning confirming the long-anticipated melding of the two companies. Put bluntly, that means the former Moonves-era CFO has lost oversight of prestigious premium cabler Showtime, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel and publisher Simon & Schuster. In a further sign of Ianniello’s slipping authority under the new regime that Shari Redstone has planned for years, he no longer will have domain over ad sales and distribution – or, as one source put it with knife in hand, “his bread and butter.”

Bob Bakish

The exec publicly surrendered part of the kingdom he hoped to inherit in a memo circulated to staff in the past hour.

“As for our esteemed colleagues at Simon & Schuster and Showtime, your divisions will report to Bob when the deal closes, working under the inspired leadership of Carolyn Reidy and David Nevins – who will also continue to work with me overseeing entertainment programming for CBS, CBS TV Studios and CBS All Access,” Ianniello wrote.

As for the ambitious Nevins, quickly promoted by Ianniello to a new creative-overlord role when the latter took over on an interim basis from the disgraced Moonves, his future looks bright but mixed. Straddling Bakish and Ianniello corporately, the CBS chief creative officer and Showtime CEO will have to slice up his tasks even more as the cabler comes to the home of BET, Comedy Central and, in another dish on Bakish’s table, Pop TV.

The move of ad-supported cable network Pop from CBS to Viacom’s expansive basic cable network group is not surprising, reuniting Pop president Brad Schwartz with Bakish. Years ago, Schwartz ran MTV Canada for Bakish who was president of MTV Networks International.

As Nevins is integrated into the Viacom mix, he’ll be working with key brand chiefs including Brian Robbins at Nickelodeon (the AwesomenessTV founder replaced longtime network boss Cyma Zarghami last fall) and Chris McCarthy, who heads networks including MTV and VH1 and has been an executive on the rise.

Ad sales is another area where the integration could get interesting. Jo Ann Ross, chief ad revenue officer for CBS, has been at the company 27 years and oversees a juggernaut that has consistently increased sales despite disruption to linear viewing. That success was sometimes overshadowed by the drama around Moonves’ exit; Ross publicly stuck up for her longtime boss as a mentor who treated her fairly, though she went on to say she was “sad” and “troubled” by the allegations from several women against Moonves, adding that their voices “need to be heard.”

At Viacom, Sean Moran is a 24-year company veteran who was promoted to the top job in 2016. Working closely with Bakish, he has engineered a turnaround that has seen Viacom’s formerly lagging cable networks this most recent quarter post their first year-over-year gain in revenue since 2014.

At Disney and NBCUniversal, two companies with a mix of broadcast, cable and digital assets, a single executive oversees the entire portfolio – not so much at ViacomCBS Inc, for now.

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