Shuffle sets up sites for spinoffs

MTV Networks said Tuesday it is splitting up its Web properties that previously fell under its MTV Networks Online division to operate under its new MTVi Group and Nickelodeon Online banners.

The two groups will report directly to MTV Networks.

As part of the restructuring, MTVi Group will oversee music sites VH1.com, MTV.com and SonicNet.com. The more kid-oriented Nickelodeon Online features nick.com, nickjr.com, tvland.com, nick-at-nite.com and RedRocket.com.

The move puts MTV’s niche Internet arms in a position to take full advantage of Wall Street’s love affair with the Internet, should MTV-parent Viacom decide to spinoff the banners in a public offering, an idea that MTV has been mulling over for some time.

A public offering would follow NBC’s decision to combine its online ventures into a division called NBCi on Wall Street. Time Warner has hinted it may do the same with its hub Entertaindom.com, as has CBS with its Web ventures.

Under the new structure, Nicholas Butterworth will continue to serve as prexy and CEO of MTVi Group, where he recently spearheaded the re-launch of MTVi’s Web sites.

Butterworth will now report directly to Tom Freston, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks.

Fred Seibert will now focus his efforts on Nickelodeon Online and will continue reporting directly to Freston.

Taran Swan, senior veep of Nickelodeon Online, will continue to report directly to Seibert. In addition, Lynne Weiss, senior veep of RedRocket.com, will continue to report to Seibert.

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