B&C stated a few months back that running MTV may just be the toughest job in television, meaning a stiff challenge for incoming president Chris McCarthy, who adds MTV oversight to that of VH1 and Logo as Sean Atkins departs. McCarthy joined MTV Networks and Logo a decade ago, doing marketing and business strategy and has risen steadily since.
The affable exec, featuring degrees from Drexel and U. Penn, was named general manager of VH1 in July 2015, when Tom Calderone departed, and the network has been a bright spot at troubled Viacom. At the time of his promotion, McCarthy was described as a “multi-talented executive” by Doug Herzog, president of the Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, who was well suited for building brands and navigating this new era in media. In fact, McCarthy had spent 7 1/2 years as general manager of MTV Digital Networks earlier in his career.
VH1 Classic was rebranded as MTV Classic in August, while just last month, MTV Hits was recast as NickMusic, with a focus on more child-friendly programming.
McCarthy has carved out a pop cultural niche at VH1 while continuing to honor its musical roots. The network is bringing back VH1 Divas after a four-year hiatus, the program debuting in December. And Hip Hop Honors was back in July with a live telecast, following a six-year hiatus.
Another key move by McCarthy was acquiring America’s Next Top Model at VH1 after its cancellation at The CW. It debuts Dec. 12. VH1 had previously aired episodes of ANTM following their broadcast debuts.
On the Logo side, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a ratings power, and the network recently announced a second season of unscripted series Finding Prince Charming. Logo, and its chief, showed some enterprise by picking up the Eurovision Song Contest, a first for U.S. television and a somewhat surprising hit for the network.
McCarthy was made executive VP of MTV in 2013, following a three-year run as general manager of MTV2 and mtvU. In October 2014, he got the official general manager title at Logo, following a stint as interim chief.
Atkins, formerly of Discovery Networks, departed the MTV president job after just over a year. Key for McCarthy is making MTV relevant for young people—perhaps not in the manner it was decades ago, but at least on par with Vice, BuzzFeed and other hot brands attracting digital natives.
Viacom has been under turmoil amidst the numerous legal travails involving Sumner Redstone and talks of it reuniting with CBS. In McCarthy, MTV, VH1 and Logo at least get a familiar face with a proven track record.