Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

MTV President, Sean Atkins quit Monday, Oct. 24, after the network's parent company installed another executive over him.

Mark Von Holden

Sean Atkins, the media veteran hired last year by Viacom Inc. to right the ship at MTV and bring the network back to its music roots, is stepping down.

Chris McCarthy, president of Viacom's VH1 and Logo, will add MTV to his purview and continue reporting to Doug Herzog, president of Viacom's music and entertainment group, according to a company statement Monday. Mr. Atkins will stay on as a consultant through January to help with the transition, according to a memo to staff.

Mr. Atkins leaves MTV as he found it, with viewership in decline and the future uncertain. Viacom, the media conglomerate that purchased MTV in 1985, is exploring a possible reunion with CBS Corp., owner of the nation's most-watched broadcast network.

Story continues below advertisement

During his year-plus tenure, Mr. Atkins strived to reclaim MTV's status as the arbiter of cool for teenagers and young adults. He focused on music to revitalize one of the most recognizable brands in pop culture and lure a new generation of young viewers who have replaced Total Request Live with YouTube and Snapchat.

With more competition from streaming platforms like Netflix and fewer fresh hits, MTV has hemorrhaged viewers in recent years – and is one of Viacom's biggest losers. Viewership declined 16 per cent during prime time in the third quarter as the network's attempt to attract new audiences fell flat, according to research by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Viewership for the year is down just 1 per cent, though ratings at MTV among the network's target demographic have declined at an annual rate of 17 per cent since 2011, according to data from research firm MoffettNathanson LLC.

"We've filled the creative pipeline with so many new projects and producers," Mr. Atkins said in the memo. "This tremendous creative effort is a recipe for success and it will pay off." Prior to joining MTV, Mr. Atkins served as general manager and executive vice president of digital media and strategy at Discovery Communications Inc.

Mr. McCarthy must decide how many of the new shows to keep on the air, and how much MTV will continue to embrace its past. He began his Viacom career at MTV, working at MTVU, a cable network focused on college students.

The business school graduate rose through the ranks, overseeing a number of MTV's smaller siblings like MTVU and MTV2, before gaining oversight of Logo and VH1.

"I'm humbled by the opportunity to lead MTV, the place where I grew up and learned from some of the most gifted, creative and genuine leaders," McCarthy said. "The power of the MTV brand is its ability to let go everything it knows and reinvent for the next generation of youth, and I'm excited to push the boundaries of what it can be in this transformative time."

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies