PopTV chief becomes latest ViacomCBS departure, headed for Audible

Brad Schwartz

Brad Schwartz

Amazon has hired the president of ViacomCBS’s US cable network PopTV as chief content officer for its podcast operation Audible.

Brad Schwartz will oversee content for the audio outfit having headed up PopTV and its predecessor TV Guide Network for more than seven years. He reports into CEO Bob Carrigan, the former publishing exec who landed at Audible late last year.

Schwartz previously worked at MSG Media and Bell Media in Canada prior to his stint at PopTV, where he worked on shows including Schitt’s Creek before the network moved away from original scripted programming in 2019.

Schitt’s Creek

He said that Audible, which offers spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, “continues to forge new paths in bringing premium storytelling and original IP to the ever-expanding audio segment of our industry. Audible’s creative leadership, commitment to innovation, future-leaning focus, customer-centricity and ability to give artists of all kinds the opportunity to tell stories that matter are at the center of its success.”

Carrigan added: “As Audible continues to expand its focus on premium audio storytelling and entertainment across all formats and genres, Brad’s highly successful track record, expertise and stellar relationships in the entertainment community will be integral to our aggressive content efforts and plans.”

Schwartz becomes the latest senior exec to depart ViacomCBS since the merger between Viacom and CBS, which was formally completed in December.

The ensuing management rejig has seen a slew of senior exec departures at ViacomCBS’s US operations, with Smithsonian Channel’s president Tom Hayden among those set to leave, along with Sarah Babineau, head of Comedy Central content & creative enterprises, and Lauren Dolgen, Paramount Network’s SVP of unscripted.

In the UK, departures have included Jill Offman, the former Comedy Central exec who was most recently EVP of ViacomCBS International Studios UK.

The revamp is part of an ongoing restructure at the company, which was implemented following the creation of ViacomCBS, and is part of a plan to save $750m over the next three years by merging its brands. The company has already restructured much of its international business, which included breaking its ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) group into two brand divisions and three pan-regional management hubs.

Amazon to the rescue

As well as taking on PopTV’s president, Amazon has also given a new home to one of its shows, Flack, after the dark comedy-drama was surprisingly dropped by the ViacomCBS-owned network.

The series, which stars Anna Paquin (True Blood) as a woman at the top of her game in the high-stakes world of celebrity public relations, was produced in association with British broadcaster UKTV and cancelled just days before the premiere of its second season.

Deadline, which originally reported on the story, says Amazon will air seasons one and two of Flack in the US and Canada, with the option to produce a third season.

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