Business

MTV President Adds Comedy Central to Responsibilities in ViacomCBS Shakeup

Chris McCarthy
Courtesy of MTV

Chris McCarthy

ViacomCBS continues to shake up its executive ranks ahead of its expected merger next month. 

The company is expanding the oversight of Chris McCarthy, who currently oversees the MTV, VH1, Logo and CMT networks. McCarthy will add oversight of Comedy Central, Paramount Network, TV Land and Smithsonian Channel in the shakeup, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

David Nevins, chief creative officer of CBS and CEO of Showtime Networks, will add oversight of BET Networks in the shift. Scott Mills will continue to run BET, but will now report to Nevins. Brian Robbins will continue to oversee Nickelodeon (he was named president of the kids channel a year ago), but will now add oversight of AwesomenessTV. 

Marc DeBevoise, who is CEO for CBS Interactive, will oversee digital operations for the combined company. Kelly Day, who runs Viacom Digital Studios, will report to DeBevoise, though Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan will continue to report to Bob Bakish, who will be CEO of the combined company.

Two senior executives will be leaving the company: Kent Alterman, who currently leads Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land, and Sarah Levy, who is COO of Viacom Media Networks, will both exit after the merger closes. (Read Alterman's heartfelt memo to his colleagues below.)

McCarthy has been a rising star at Viacom under Bakish. After being promoted to president at MTV, he expanded his purview to include VH1, Logo and CMT, as Viacom continued to centralize oversight of its cable brands. The exec has helped revitalize MTV with a string of revivals of classic unscripted shows to a series of ratings upticks over the past several quarters.

Alterman, meanwhile, was handed Paramount Network — Viacom’s broad-skewing cabler (formerly Spike) — last year. His predecessor, Kevin Kay, was pushed out a year after its rebranding. Comedy Central, under Alterman’s leadership, has seen 10 consecutive quarters of year-over-year share growth.

Alterman and Levy are the latest longtime Viacom executives to depart in recent years. Nickelodeon chief Cyma Zarghami and BET chief executive Debra Lee both exited last year.

Bakish’s larger plan to rejuvenate Viacom was to focus on key brands BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network. All have changed leadership since Bakish arrived at Viacom.

With the Viacom-CBS merger expected to close in December, Nevins will continue his upward rise. The Showtime exec was given oversight of CBS’ entertainment unit following CEO Les Moonves’ ouster and will now oversee BET, which recently launched its own subscription streaming service, BET+. Mills oversees the linear network and streamer, the latter of which is a partnership between Viacom and Tyler Perry.

The shakeup is the latest sign that media giants are laying the groundwork for consolidation amid dwindling linear TV ratings and the explosion of streaming services.

Viacom, pre-CBS merger, consolidated MTV, VH1, Logo and CMT, all under McCarthy, for example, eliminating development and marketing executives in the process as it centralized all operations under McCarthy and the team he built at MTV.

Viacom and CBS set up an integration management office in September and have been announcing a number of executives for the combined company since.

Read Alterman's memo to staff at THR.com.