Viacom taps TV Land's Cox to head development for Paramount Network

With an oversight role at Paramount Network, Keith Cox would have a prominent role at one of the recently dubbed core six networks for Viacom. (Viacom)

Viacom is putting TV Land’s Keith Cox in charge of development for the upcoming Paramount Network, which will launch after Spike is rebranded.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cox will take on the job in addition to his current duties while Sharon Levy, head of originals at Spike, will depart the company.

For Cox, the addition of oversight at Paramount Network means he would have a prominent role at one of the recently dubbed core six networks for Viacom.

During its most recent quarterly earnings call, Viacom announced a new strategic vision that will put the programmer’s “full power” behind six flagship brands: BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount.

“These six brands each have compelling, valuable and distinct brand propositions. They serve diverse, substantial audiences with largely owned content, have global reach and distribution potential across linear, digital, film, and consumer products, events and experiences,” the company said in a statement. “Viacom's other brands—some of which hold strong positions in their categories and maintain diverse and loyal followings—will be realigned to reinforce the six flagship brands.”

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish specified that the new prioritization didn’t mean a “light switch turning off a whole bunch of networks,” but more of a refocus of Viacom’s efforts on the most successful networks.

The Paramount Network plans to use Spike's programming and other Viacom original scripted and non-scripted programming, and incorporate more original and third-party programming.

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For Levy, who reportedly made the decision to leave Viacom, a departure from Spike TV comes after she has already begun the process of shifting Spike away from its male-targeted programming past and toward a more general entertainment tilt.

Speaking last week with the Hollywood Reporter, Levy noted that Viacom’s large portfolio did not really include a general entertainment network and so the company saw the opportunity to create that with Spike.

Spike has begun moving into scripted series and Lip Sync Battle has been skewing 60% female, according to Levy.