Kaplan joins her former Awesomeness colleague Kelly Day, who was tapped as Viacom Digital Studios president last November. In the newly created role at VDS, Kaplan will be responsible for building and managing talent and production partnerships with an eye toward creating original talent-centric intellectual property. She’s also tasked with coordinating talent and production-deal strategy with other Viacom divisions.
“Paula is a seasoned executive and a well-regarded leader in the creative community, with a track record of identifying and nurturing talent and delivering revenue-generating results,” Day wrote in a memo to staff Thursday announcing the hire.
Kaplan officially starts at Viacom Digital Studios on Monday, April 30, reported to Day (who was formerly Awesomeness’ chief business officer). VDS was formed with a mission to produce new original digital entertainment and brand-sponsored content for a range of platforms, as well as work with other Viacom brands on new online initiatives.
Before joining VDS, Kaplan led the overall talent strategy for AwesomenessTV, including creative and business operations for the multichannel network side of the business as well as casting for feature films and digital series. Prior to joining Awesomeness in July 2015, she had spent more than 20 years at Nickelodeon in a variety of roles, including EVP of original programming and live events. At Nick, she worked with talent from live-action series such as “iCarly” and “Drake and Josh” to animated franchises including “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “Dora the Explorer.” Kaplan also helped build the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards live event into an annual mainstay for the cable network.
Kaplan’s hire follows the recent promotion of Stefanie Schwartz to EVP of Viacom Digital Studios strategy and operations and Viacom Media Networks digital partnerships.
All told, in the first quarter of 2018, Viacom had around 850 million social followers, delivering 4.3 billion video views (up 70% year over year) and 4.7 billion minutes viewed in the U.S. (up 78%).