VH1 exec Norman sings higher note

Promotion comes as network see ratings increases

After less than two years at VH1, exec VP-general manager Christina Norman has been upped to president of the music cabler.

Promotion comes on the heels of ratings highs for the network: 2003 was VH1’s most-watched year ever, up 24% in total viewers for primetime. Under Norman and entertainment prexy Brian Graden, the channel has seen six consecutive quarters of double-digit primetime growth in the important 18-49 category.

As president, Norman will continue to guide the channel from a creative and branding standpoint, as well as be responsible for day-to-day leadership strategy and management of VH1. She will also continue to oversee the network’s digital services VH1 Classic, VH1 Mega Hits, VH Uno, VH1 Country and VH1 Soul.

Gotham-based Norman will continue to report to MTV Networks prexy Judy McGrath, who called the promotion well deserved in light of Norman’s overhaul of the once ratings-challenged channel.

“VH1 was a good brand to begin with. What’s she done is make it more relative and fun to watch. She and Brian updated the retro niche that people loved and found a way into current music with a voice that felt different and right for this audience,” McGrath said. “She’s just got great creative instincts and serves as a great partner to Brian. Everything she does has a certain ingenuity to it and seems very fresh.”

At the helm of VH1 since April 2002, Norman has refreshed the cabler’s on-air look — tossing out the old monotone logo, among other things — and helped reposition the network as a place with a tongue-in-cheek approach to pop culture and nostalgia. Last year, Promax honored her with its first-ever Brand Builder Award. Successful originals launched under her watch include the five-part “I Love the …” franchise, the kudocast “Big in ’03” and the recent series “Bands Reunited.”

“At first, it was really about getting the channel back on track,” Norman said. “Now that the main house is more settled. I’m looking for other ways to build this brand, whether it be through off-air and ancillary business or through our other channels.”

Norman says that among her goals, she plans to revitalize VH1’s 6-year-old Save the Music campaign as well as push the growth of the digital tiers.

“Christina and her team have reinvigorated everything about VH1, and the results are nothing short of amazing,” McGrath said.

Norman joined MTV Networks in 1991 as a production manager and also served as MTV’s senior VP of marketing, advertising and on-air promotion.

VH1 hasn’t had a net president since John Sykes departed in March 2002 to head Infinity Radio.

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