ViacomCBS Promotes Pair of Chris McCarthy's Top Lieutenants

Sarah Babineau and Keith Cox have scored senior roles in the recently expanded Entertainment & Youth Group.
Courtesy of Comedy Central: Paramount Network
Sarah Babineau, Keith Cox

Chris McCarthy is promoting a pair of his top lieutenants in his rapidly expanding Entertainment & Youth Group at ViacomCBS.

Sarah Babineau and Keith Cox have been promoted from their current roles overseeing Comedy Central and Paramount Network/TV Land, respectively, under McCarthy. The latter this week added oversight of basic cable network Pop TV to a purview that already included Paramount Network, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, CMT, TV Land, Smithsonian Channel and Logo.

Babineau will serve as head of Comedy Central Content and Creative Enterprises. With the new role, she will oversee creative content and talent for Comedy Central, CC Films, projects from Comedy Central Productions for third parties, tentpoles, games and ancillary businesses. During her tenure at Comedy Central, she has developed such hits as Broad CityInside Amy Schumer, The Other Two and new launch Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, with the latter renewed earlier this week for a second season before its debut. She joined Comedy Central in 2014.

As part of ViacomCBS' consolidation under McCarthy, Comedy Central co-head of originals Jonas Larsen — who was promoted in July alongside Babineau — is exiting the company after working on South Side and Lights Out With David Spade, among others. He previously was charged with overseeing unscripted, live events, stand-up and audio content, among other responsibilities.

As for Cox, he will now serve in the newly created role as president of Entertainment & Youth Studios. In the role, he will focus on third-party content development and oversee scripted series via the studios under McCarthy's group (save for Comedy Central, which falls to Babineau), while also continuing to lead scripted for Paramount Network. Cox will be charged with growing Viacom's studio business in the division as Viacom CEO Bob Bakish looks to continue to monetize the company's library with new series for both within the company and third-party buyers like Netflix. (Former MTV hit The Real World, for example, was revived and sold to Facebook Watch as part of the push.) Cox this week announced Paramount Network's second drama from Oscar-winner Taylor Sheridan and has a deep cache of talent relationships dating back to his time as a development exec at Warner Bros. TV.

Amid the promotions, Smithsonian Channel president Tom Hayden and Pop TV president Brad Schwartz will remain in their current positions.

The executive promotions and new structure arrive as ViacomCBS continues to shuffle the decks after remerging last year. The combined company is in the midst of merging several operations, with layoffs already underway in departments such as administrative as the media giant looks to eliminate redundancies and better position itself for the future.

"Looking ahead, we are building a leadership team that maximizes our full potential," McCarthy wrote Thursday in an internal memo sent to staff announcing the moves. "At the same time, we are providing specialized leadership at the brand level, where there are opportunities to super-serve unique communities and at the new business level to expedite our growth in streaming and studio sales."

McCarthy, Cox and Babineau have been rising stars within the Viacom family. McCarthy originally started as an exec at VH1 before slowly adding other cable networks to his purview. Cox started as the No. 2 exec at niche cabler TV Land, where he developed Sutton Foster favorite Younger. He added oversight of Paramount Network when several other veteran Viacom employees were pushed out of senior roles (see Kevin Kay and Kent Alterman).