VH1 Lays Off Majority of New York Development Team

Susan Levison
Susan Levison
 

More changes are afoot at VH1.

Less than a year into programming chief Susan Levison's tenure at the younger-skewing network, VH1 has let go of more than 10 on the development team in New York. Among them: two vice presidents, Brad Abramson and Kari McFarland. Many if not all of the positions will be refilled, according to a source, but hiring will happen with an eye toward multi-platform programming.

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“With ratings on an upswing and the pace of development increasing cross platform, we felt it was the right time to examine our overall production and development structure in New York. It’s imperative we accurately structure our teams to deliver the content that our growing number of viewers want from VH1 today,” a network spokesperson said in a statement confirming the news Tuesday.

The considerable restructuring comes as the network's primetime viewership is up more than 30 percent in the key 18-49 demographic, and Levison looks to put her stamp on the Viacom-owned network. To capitalize on that momentum and appeal to a multitasking younger demo, her team has been busy adding a new batch of provocative originals, including Naked Dating and Walk of Shame Shuttle. In doing so, the goal for the protegee of former Fox reality chief Mike Darnell is to bring back a general market audience while still servicing the African-American audience that it had begun to lure en masse.

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In discussing future programming plans for the network with THR last month, Levison acknowledged she had been making the rounds at the major talent agencies, outlining what the network is interested in (loud formats, arced competition shows) and less interested in (fashion, weddings, weight loss and game shows). She has looked to expand the producer pool, too, as she focuses on a 28-year-old target viewer who is female, unmarried and, though she has her life on track, “doesn’t see any shame in watching provocative, fun TV.”

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com

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