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ViacomCBS Shuffles Oversight of Pop TV, Bellator MMA Amid Post-Merger Restructuring (EXCLUSIVE)

'Schitt's Creek,' 'One Day At a Time' cabler moves to Chris McCarthy's channel group

There are more changes afoot at ViacomCBS as oversight of cable channel Pop TV will shift from the Showtime group to the Entertainment & Youth group of channels headed by Chris McCarthy.

At the same time, Bellator MMA, the ViacomCBS-owned company that produces MMA events and manages a roster of fighters, will be now report into Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza.

The moves come as ViacomCBS continues to fine-tune the management and operational structure of the newly enlarged company following the merger of Viacom and CBS Corp. that was completed on Dec. 4. Last month, oversight of BET Networks was given to David Nevins, CBS’ chief creative officer and chairman-CEO of Showtime Networks, while McCarthy’s Entertainment & Youth wing took over Smithsonian Channel, which had been under Showtime.

Brad Schwartz will continue as president of Pop TV. The move comes at a heady time for Pop as the cabler is preparing for the March 24 debut of “One Day At a Time,” the critically beloved sitcom that Pop picked up after it was axed by Netflix. Pop also has high hopes for the sixth and final season of “Schitt’s Creek,” the offbeat family comedy that has been a sleeper success story for Pop TV. The show earned a comedy series nomination last year, which gave the show and the channel a big profile boost.

Scott Coker will continue as president of Bellator MMA.

Pop TV’s move was done in part to align the channel with other ViacomCBS ad-supported cablers in McCarthy’s Entertainment & Youth unit, which include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, CMT, TV Land, Smithsonian Channel and Logo. McCarthy’s star has shot up at ViacomCBS during the past few years. Inside of three years, his purview has grown from two channels (MTV and VH1) to nine, with the inclusion of Pop.

Nevins has also been on the move amid the changing landscape at CBS. After eight years leading Showtime, he was upped to chief creative officer in October 2018, taking on oversight of CBS Entertainment and the CBS Television Studios production arm. Nevins also heads the Content Council that was set up to foster greater communication and collaboration among content-focused executives.

The shuffling of Pop to McCarthy’s group and BET Networks to Nevins’ team surprised industry observers. According to sources familiar with the situation, the rationale is that most of Pop’s programming (beyond its handful of primetime scripted original series) is unscripted or reruns, and it draws a younger demographic than Showtime or CBS. Based in Hollywood, Bellator MMA has long been an island within Viacom. The move to Showtime Sports is designed to help integrate Bellator more fully into ViacomCBS’ content strategies.

As ViacomCBS makes more changes at the top, the company is also undergoing other post-merger changes. Layoffs of up to 100 staffers are expected to be implemented this week as the company looks for cost savings by eliminating duplicative and overlapping operations, particularly in administrative and support functions.

Here are the full memos outlining the transition from Nevins and McCarthy:

Hi everyone –

It’s quite something to realize we are still only in the second month of the new ViacomCBS era. As the New Year unfolds, company leadership is continuing to move forward toward enacting plans designed to enhance our long-term performance. To that end, one of the changes we are announcing today is that Pop TV, under the continued leadership of Brad Schwartz, will join the ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth group that falls under Chris McCarthy.

You don’t need me to remind you what a rising star Pop is. SCHITT’S CREEK is a sensation heading into its final season, lauded by critics and awards organizations alike (including four Emmy, five Critics’ Choice and two SAG noms). Audience numbers for Pop’s recent premiere week exemplified that rising trajectory, and the March 24 arrival of ONE DAY AT A TIME will truly be an event. 

Under our new structure, the operational control of Pop will transition to this recently formed division under Chris, joining an incredible suite of renowned brands that includes MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Comedy Central, TV Land, Paramount Network and our old friends, Smithsonian Channel. All of our divisions within the new company will be working closely together, and Pop will only enhance its status as a home for inventive, award-winning series.

We have all enjoyed working with everyone at Pop and could not be more appreciative of the work you have all done to elevate this network. It is a time to celebrate these efforts, and while I will no longer have primary oversight over Pop, I believe this next step will only help bring the network even more success.

Wishing you all the best for 2020 and beyond,

David

 

Hey Everyone,

To follow up on David’s note, I wanted to say hello and welcome to the Entertainment & Youth Group.

First off, congrats to all of you and Brad on your tremendous success. And, to David and the Showtime team for your strong group leadership and support of Pop TV.

It’s been really great watching you from afar. And it’s not just because “Schitt’s Creek” is one of my favorite shows – it’s that from an outsider’s perspective, Pop shares many of the qualities of our brands – a passion for great characters, inventive storytelling and a desire to entertain and make people laugh.

I’m excited to meet you, learn more about what you do and what makes Pop as special as it is. You must have lots of questions, and while I don’t have all the answers yet, I look forward to connecting in the days and weeks ahead.

Thanks,

Chris

(Pictured: “Schitt’s Creek”)

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