George Cheeks has been named president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, effective March 23. He succeeds Joe Ianniello, chairman and CEO of CBS, who will be leaving the company. CBS said Ianniello will work with the company to ensure a smooth transition.
Cheeks is vice chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios. He will lead CBS-branded assets, including CBS network, which encompasses CBS Entertainment, CBS News and CBS Sports, CBS Television Studios and CBS Television Stations and CBS’ syndication business. He will also partner with the ViacomCBS digital organization on the CBS-branded digital assets, including CBS All Access.
He spent time at Viacom before shifting to NBC. Cheeks will report to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS.
“I am thrilled to welcome George back to the family at this exciting moment for ViacomCBS,” said Bakish. “Throughout his career, George has built broad experience in broadcast and studio operations and brings a unique mix of skills – combining deep commercial expertise and industry relationships with strong creative and programming capabilities. With his finger on the pulse of culture and change and his strong grasp of strategy, brands, audiences and content monetization, George will help CBS build on its position as the most-watched broadcast network and drive results across the entire CBS portfolio.
Cheeks was previously co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. Prior to joining NBC in 2012, Cheeks was executive VP, business affairs and general counsel for Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, while also head of standards and practices for Viacom Media. Before that, he was in legal roles at Nickelodeon, MTV, CMT and LOGO.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
“I am incredibly honored to join the stellar CBS team and help lead these incredible brands forward,” said Cheeks. “From news to sports to entertainment, CBS sets the standard, and I look forward to building on this tremendous foundation as we find new and innovative ways to deliver CBS to audiences worldwide.”
Ianniello was named CBS chief operating officer in 2013. Bakish saluted Ianiello upon his departure. “I’m grateful to Joe for his many contributions to CBS and for the meaningful role he has played in bringing the CBS and Viacom teams together,” he said. “Thanks in no small part to his efforts, the CBS brand has a strong and loyal following across a variety of platforms – positioning it well for this important next chapter. The board and I wish Joe every success in his future endeavors.”
He may shift to Univision, reported the Wall Street Journal.
“I am very pleased to be able to leave CBS well positioned for long-term success,” said Ianniello. “Throughout my 22-year tenure I have always said that the quality and integrity of the people of CBS are what make it great. We have extraordinary employees at all levels of this organization, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they do their jobs day in and day out. Working with Bob, I now look forward to ensuring a smooth transition to the next phase of leadership of CBS, so that the Eye can continue to thrive, just as it has for so long.”