Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has shifted oversight of TV Land and CMT to Spike chief Kevin Kay, who will lead the three networks as head of the company’s Global Entertainment Group. The move continues the reorganization of Viacom’s cable brands under Bakish, who was named permanent Viacom CEO in December.
TV Land and CMT had been part of Viacom’s Kids and Family Group, led by Cyma Zarghami.
“Consolidating all three under Kevin’s leadership will strengthen these brands even further and will allow GEG to connect more deeply with our adult audience — which is well over 180 million viewers across Viacom brands globally,” Bakish said Wednesday in a memo to staff.
Bakish went to quick work reorganizing Viacom’s brands after taking the full-time reins at Viacom last month. Just one week after Bakish was named permanent CEO, longtime Viacom exec Doug Herzog, who had overseen Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Spike, and Logo, departed the company. Bakish then put in place a structure that saw Comedy Central president Kent Alterman, VH1 and Logo president Chris McCarthy, and Kay report directly to him.
Bakish landed the the permanent CEO job after Viacom parent National Amusements, led by Sumner and Shari Redstone, killed talks late last year of re-merging the company with CBS, which the Redstones also control.
Read the full memo from Bakish below:
I wanted to let you know that we have formalized CMT and TV Land’s move to the Global Entertainment Group, where they and Spike will now report to Kevin Kay. Consolidating all three under Kevin’s leadership will strengthen these brands even further and will allow GEG to connect more deeply with our adult audience — which is well over 180 million viewers across Viacom brands globally.
Kevin has a long-running track record of developing some of Viacom’s biggest franchises, including SpongeBob and Fairly OddParents during his tenure at Nickelodeon. Under Kevin’s leadership, Spike has grown and evolved into a premium entertainment destination for a gender-balanced audience. He is the driving force behind hit global, multiplatform formats such as the Emmy-nominated Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master, and Bar Rescue, which rank among the highest-rated cable series in their respective timeslots. He is also responsible for bringing live sports into the house, with the acquisition of Bellator MMA, one of the world’s fastest rising sports properties, now seen over 140 countries worldwide.
I’m looking forward to seeing Kevin bring that same creative vision to the strong teams and leadership he’s inheriting with CMT and TV Land. Brian Philips has ably led CMT’s recent brand transformation to incredible ratings gains and creative wins, particularly with the network’s current hit, Nashville; and, at TV Land, Keith Cox has built a pipeline of buzzworthy content where hits like Younger and Teachers are just the beginning.
As the head of the Kids & Family Group, Cyma Zarghami championed CMT and TV Land and was instrumental in leading them to the highs they are hitting today. Having her considerable focus and drive now centered on our important kids audience will keep Nickelodeon expanding its brand and business more than ever.
Further specifics on the TV Land and CMT transition to Kevin’s world will be coming shortly from brand and team leadership. In the meantime, thank you to everyone across the company for your incredible work every day.