Viacom names Sarah Levy as operations chief at MTV, Comedy Central, VH1

Sarah Levy. Image: Viacom

Viacom has created the role of COO for its Global Entertainment Group and handed the reins to Sarah Levy.

In the new position, Levy will be charge of operations for MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike, CMT, TV Land, Logo and Viacom International Media Networks, and will report directly to CEO Bob Bakish.

The promotion for Levy comes after she has held the role of COO for Viacom’s children’s programming group and Nickelodeon before that.

“Viacom is committed to making the changes necessary to enhance performance, and we are deeply focused on increasing coordination and collaboration across our individual brands. Aligning these network operations under Sarah represents an important step forward to becoming a stronger and more integrated organization,” said Bakish in a statement. “In Sarah's nearly 20 years at Viacom, she has established a strong track record of success, and has been a key leader at Nickelodeon, helping to drive the network's long-range strategy and the continued dominance of the brand across every screen and revenue stream.”

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The move to put Levy in charge of operations for the entertainment group comes weeks after Viacom announced the departure of longtime executive Doug Herzog—who ran the music and entertainment group consisting of MTV, Comedy Central and Spike. In the wake of Herzog’s exit, Bakish announced that Chris McCarthy, Kent Alterman and Kevin Kay—who run the channels in that group—would be reporting directly to him.

Having a new COO in charge of those networks will likely ease the workload on Bakish. Levy, who has had success in growing new business opportunities and partnerships for Nickelodeon and its related channels, could help breathe new life into struggling networks like MTV and Comedy Central.

For Viacom, the management changes continue as the network has abandoned its plans to recombine with CBS after National Amusements, the controlling shareholder for both Viacom and CBS, signaled some renewed confidence in Viacom’s chances of going it alone.

“Over the past few months, after careful assessment and meetings with the leadership of both companies, we have concluded that this is not the right time to merge the companies,” wrote National Amusements CEO Shari Redstone in a letter to shareholders. “Following the management changes that the Viacom Board put in place, we have been very impressed with the forward‐looking thinking and strategic plan being pursued under Bob Bakish’s leadership. We know Viacom has tremendous assets that are currently undervalued, and we are confident that with this new strong management team, the value of these assets can be unleashed.”