Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has shifted management responsibility for cable networks CMT and TV Land to Kevin Kay, who also continues to run Spike.
During a previous reorganization, CMT and TV Land were made part of Viacom’s Kids & Family Group. They are now part of Viacom’s Global Entertainment Group.
“Consolidating all three under Kevin’s leadership will strengthen these brands even further and will allow GEG to connect more deeply with our adult audience—which is well over 180 million viewers across Viacom brands globally,” Bakish said in a staff memo Wednesday.
Bakish praised Kay for improving Spike’s programming and broadening its audience into a better balance between men and women.
“I'm looking forward to seeing Kevin bring that same creative vision to the strong teams and leadership he’s inheriting with CMT and TV Land,” he said.
“As the head of the Kids & Family Group, Cyma Zarghami championed CMT and TV Land and was instrumental in leading them to the highs they are hitting today. Having her considerable focus and drive now centered on our important kids audience will keep Nickelodeon expanding its brand and business more than ever,” Bakish added.
Many of Viacom’s cable networks have been struggling. The company last year installed new management at MTV and Comedy Central. MTV was grouped with VH1 and Logo under Chris McCarthy. This move is also designed to create collaboration among similarly targeted networks.
Here is the text of Bakish’s memo:
I wanted to let you know that we have formalized CMT and TV Land’s move to the Global Entertainment Group, where they and Spike will now report to Kevin Kay. Consolidating all three under Kevin’s leadership will strengthen these brands even further and will allow GEG to connect more deeply with our adult audience -- which is well over 180 million viewers across Viacom brands globally.
Kevin has a long-running track record of developing some of Viacom's biggest franchises, including SpongeBob and Fairly OddParents during his tenure at Nickelodeon. Under Kevin’s leadership, Spike has grown and evolved into a premium entertainment destination for a gender-balanced audience. He is the driving force behind hit global, multiplatform formats such as the Emmy-nominated Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master, and Bar Rescue, which rank among the highest-rated cable series in their respective timeslots. He is also responsible for bringing live sports into the house, with the acquisition of Bellator MMA, one of the world’s fastest rising sports properties, now seen over 140 countries worldwide.
I'm looking forward to seeing Kevin bring that same creative vision to the strong teams and leadership he’s inheriting with CMT and TV Land. Brian Philips has ably led CMT’s recent brand transformation to incredible ratings gains and creative wins, particularly with the network’s current hit, Nashville; and, at TV Land, Keith Cox has built a pipeline of buzzworthy content where hits like Younger and Teachers are just the beginning.
As the head of the Kids & Family Group, Cyma Zarghami championed CMT and TV Land and was instrumental in leading them to the highs they are hitting today. Having her considerable focus and drive now centered on our important kids audience will keep Nickelodeon expanding its brand and business more than ever.
Further specifics on the TV Land and CMT transition to Kevin’s world will be coming shortly from brand and team leadership. In the meantime, thank you to everyone across the company for your incredible work every day.
Below is the text of a memo from Kevin Kay to staff:
I’m incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead the immensely talented and creative teams at TV Land and CMT, along with the Spike team which I’ve proudly been a part of since launch in 2003. Behind the leadership of Bob and the new dynamic management team at Viacom, there is great momentum at the company which is a testament to your hard work and dedication. Over the next few weeks, I look forward to getting to know everyone and up to speed on all that you are working on.
I’ve already been talking to Keith and Brian, and with exceptional and distinctive original programming across the brands from Younger to Nashville to Lip Sync Battle, the foundation for success is in place. With the forward-thinking and ambitious teams we have, I believe we have only scratched the surface on what we can achieve.
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge my long-time colleague Cyma Zarghami for her success growing the TV Land and CMT brands and thank her for her tremendous support during this transition.
I’ve been at Viacom for over 20 years and I’m truly honored to partner with all of you as our company continues to evolve and grow. The future is bright and I’m so glad to be a part of it with you.