Paramount is transferring control of VH1 to BET Media Group. That means the network behind the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Love and Hip Hop” franchises, among others, will now be under the control of BET President/CEO Scott Mills and his team.
Paramount President/CEO Bob Bakish made the announcement in a memo to employees on Wednesday. The shift means VH1 is no longer MTV’s sister network, which it has been since the channel debuted in 1985 (as “Video Hits One”). A longtime part of the MTV Networks family, VH1 began as an adult contemporary music video channel before eventually transitioning into reality fare.
Chris McCarthy previously oversaw VH1 as president and CEO of Paramount Media Networks, but the recent takeover of Showtime Networks has prompted Bakish to review some of the company’s structure. MTV Entertainment Studios, under McCarthy and Nina L. Diaz, will continue to produce several of VH1’s existing shows for the network, Bakish said in the memo.
VH1 has found success in recent years with hits that appeal to black audiences, including “Basketball Wives,” “Black Color Crew,” “Love and Hip Hop” and “Dear Mama” specials. The network also grew through its signature franchise, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Moving to BET Media Group, VH1 now operates alongside BET, BET+, BET Studios, BET Her and BET Digital under Mills, who was promoted to CEO this time last year. Meanwhile, McCarthy has his hands full after taking over Showtime Networks last month following the departure of David Nevins last month. Also as part of that transition, BET (and Mills) will now report to CBS president and CEO George Cheeks.
Here’s Bakish’s latest memo detailing the change:
As we take further steps to accelerate the transformation of our operations and leverage the full strength of Paramount, I am excited to share that VH1 will be moving to the BET Media Group, which includes BET, BET+, BET Studios and BET Digital.
This strategic alignment ensures that VH1 – the leader in multicultural programming and the second largest U.S. cable network for black viewers – is positioned as a key part of the powerful BET ecosystem for future success under the leadership of Scott Mills.
Scott and his team continue the evolution and growth of BET by building leading platforms centered around the black community, black culture and content – linear, streaming, digital and studios. Their ability to create popular programs and experiences, invest in new talent and storytellers, leverage our strengths in streaming and original production, and expand and deepen relationships with key business partners make them the perfect fit to take on this brand and business.
I’d also like to recognize the MTV Entertainment Studios team led by Chris McCarthy and Nina L. Diaz, who over the past five years have rebuilt the VH1 brand and produced hit franchises from “Black Crew” and “Love and Hip Hop” to “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Their work VH1 It has helped him rack up nearly 40 Emmy Awards, establishing him as an industry champion in diversity both in front of the camera and behind the screen. Chris and his team continue to focus on consolidating showtime and globalizing the group’s media networks, as well as partnering with BET Teams to continue producing several hit shows on VH1. They will be.
We are currently working on the details of that transition and will share updates as we have them. In the meantime, as we look forward to this successful next chapter of VH1, please congratulate Scott and the BAT organization and thank Chris and the MTV Entertainment team for their contributions.