Paramount Uncouples VH1 and MTV in Latest Network Restructuring

BET president and CEO Scott Mills is adding to his portfolio at Paramount Global.

In the latest piece of reorganization at the conglomerate, VH1 will move under Mills’ BET Media Group. The cable outlet was previously part of the Chris McCarthy-led Paramount Media Networks, along with Paramount Network, MTV, Comedy Central, CMT and others.

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish wrote in a memo to staff Wednesday (see it in full here) that the move will allow for better alignment of priorities and make VH1 “best positioned for future success as a key part of the powerful BET ecosystem.” VH1 is the second most popular entertainment cable outlet among Black viewers, behind only BET.


It also lightens the load for McCarthy, a Bakish favorite who will add premium cabler Showtime to his purview following David Nevins’ departure at the end of the year. MTV Entertainment Studios, headed by McCarthy and Nina L. Diaz, will continue to produce a number of VH1 series, including the Love & Hip Hop franchise, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Black Ink Crew.

The VH1 move also separates it from MTV in Paramount’s structure, ending almost four decades of close association between the two networks. The cable network started in 1985 as a music-video channel targeting a somewhat older audience than the youth-driven MTV. It eventually branched into original programming with shows like Behind the Music, I Love the … and a host of “celebreality” shows like Rock of Love and The Surreal Life. And, like MTV, it has mostly left its music roots behind.

As has been the case across the cable universe, VH1’s on-air audience has declined in recent years as increasing numbers of TV consumers opt out of cable subscriptions. Within that smaller ecosystem, however, it still ranks in the upper third of cable networks in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49.

VH1 will join a BET Media Group that also includes the namesake cable channel, streaming platform BET+, BET Her, BET Studios and BET Digital. “Scott and his team continue to drive the evolution and growth of BET by building an interconnected set of leading platforms — linear, streaming, digital and studios — centered around the Black community, Black culture and content,” Bakish wrote.

Read Bakish’s full memo.

Marc Schneider