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Kevin Kay Exits Paramount Network as Viacom Reorganizes Cable Channels

Kevin Kay is exiting Viacom, where he oversaw Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT.

The move is part of a reorganization of the company’s cable brands, announced Thursday by CEO Bob Bakish, that will see executives Kent Alterman and Chris McCarthy broaden their portfolios.

Alterman will now lead the Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land group, while McCarthy will expand his current role of president of MTV, VH1 and Logo to now include CMT. Alterman and McCarthy will continue to report to Bakish. There are no changes to BET Networks or Nickelodeon.  Keith Cox, president of development for Paramount Network and TV Land, will remain in that role.

Kay has been with Viacom in various capacities going back two decades. He was handpicked to oversee the rebrand of Spike TV, which was re-launched as Paramout Network at the beginning of this year. He previously oversaw hit shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Kenan & Kel” at Nickelodeon and launched shows like “The Ultimate Fighter,” “Lip Sync Battle,” and “Bar Rescue” at Spike.

At Paramount Network, Kay launched the Kevin Costner-led drama “Yellowstone,” which became the second-most-watched cable series of 2018. The network is also currently developing a “First Wives Club” series from Tracy Oliver and will air the sixth season of “Younger,” which originally ran on TV Land. “Younger” creator Darren Star is also prepping the series “Emily in Paris” for the network. “American Woman”–which was originally developed at TV Land–and the TV Land series “Nobodies” moved over to Paramount Network after the rebrand but were subsequently canceled.

“These changes mark the next step in the ongoing evolution of our company as we continue to ensure we’re making the most of our great assets and resources, and operating as nimbly and efficiently as we can,” said Bakish. “Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land share an original content strategy anchored in scripted programming, and CMT – with its deep roots in music and unscripted programming – is a natural partner for MTV and VH1. Kent and Chris have been driving forces behind Viacom’s flagship strategy, re-energizing and growing two of our most iconic brands, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Alterman has served as president of Comedy Central since 2016 after previously holding the position of president of original programming at the network. McCarthy was elevated to president of MTV, VH1 and Logo in October 2016 after serving as president of VH1 and Logo.

This marks the latest in a string of changes Bakish has instituted since taking over as Viacom CEO back in 2016. Under his leadership, Viacom has shifted its focus toward what Bakish identified as its core cable brands. Under that directive, not only was Spike TV rebranded as Paramount Network, but channels like MTV have all but ceased developing scripted fare. Bakish has also made executive changes at the highest levels of several Viacom networks, with long-serving execs like BET chairwoman and CEO Debra Lee stepping down earlier this year.

See Bakish’s internal memo below:

Team,

Over the past two years, we have made a lot of progress in our efforts to become a stronger, more agile organization. We’ve continued to work to break down silos and more strategically use our resources, to make the most of the great assets we have, and to help fund our future.

Today we are taking the next step forward in our evolution, with a new, simplified structure for Viacom Media Networks. Effective immediately, we will further consolidate our brand groups to four from five:

Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land
MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo
BET Networks
Nickelodeon

As a result, Paramount Network, Bellator and TV Land will operate alongside Comedy Central under Kent Alterman, President, and Chris McCarthy will oversee MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. There are no changes to BET and Nickelodeon.

As we’ve done a lot of work to clarify our brands’ filters and positioning, a few things have become clear. Paramount Network and TV Land share with Comedy Central a robust slate of scripted programming – with TV Land and Comedy Central, in particular, focused on comedy. By working as a team, all three networks can make the most out of their complementary expertise and resources. Similarly, CMT – with its deep roots in music and unscripted programming – is a natural partner for MTV and VH1.

Kent and Chris have been driving forces behind Viacom’s flagship strategy, re-energizing and growing two of our most iconic brands. I think they’re perfectly positioned to help Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT start their next chapters.

Unfortunately, however, this new structure does mean some hard changes. A number of senior-level colleagues will be leaving, including Kevin Kay, who is stepping down as President, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. I am so grateful that Kevin has generously agreed to stay on for a period to help ensure a smooth transition.

Kevin is a passionate storyteller whose legacy at Viacom spans more than two decades and seven networks, and I’m thankful to him and his team for their many contributions. At Nickelodeon, Kevin left his mark by overseeing a string of hits that included All That, Kenan & Kel and The Adventures of Pete & Pete – as well as developing and greenlighting SpongeBob SquarePants. And during his tenure at Spike, he oversaw the launch of fan-favorites like The Ultimate Fighter, Lip Sync Battle, Bar Rescue and Ink Master, as well as the expansion of Bellator.

Most recently, he and his team undertook the huge task of launching Paramount Network. Thanks to their hard work, Paramount Network quickly established itself as a home for premium content, achieving early critical and ratings success with the high-quality, cinematic original series Waco and Yellowstone – the latter of which is now the second-most-watched cable series of 2018. All of this while also ensuring that TV Land and CMT continue to be dominant forces in the very important audiences they reach.

We know there is a lot of change, but we continue to make important progress with each step we take. Thank you, as always, for your continued support as we transform this company for the future.

Best,
Bob

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