The FINANCIAL — MTV, a unit of Viacom on September 30 named Sean Atkins as President, overseeing all creative and business operations for the youth entertainment brand and its sister networks, MTV2 and mtvU. A veteran media executive with expertise across disciplines, Atkins joins MTV from Discovery Communications, where he most recently served as General Manager & Executive Vice President of Digital Media and Strategy.
Atkins will report to Doug Herzog, President of the Viacom Music and Entertainment Group. MTV’s programming co-heads, Mina Lefevre, Executive Vice President and Head of Scripted Development; and Lauren Dolgen, Head of Reality Programming and Executive Vice President of Series Development, will report directly to Atkins. The announcement was made today by Herzog, according to Viacom.
“Sean is smart, creative, passionate, and remarkably energized about the sea change at hand in our industry,” said Herzog. “The strength of MTV lies in its ability to constantly reinvent, and Sean’s forward-thinking, versatile leadership will ensure our brand and business continue to evolve and deliver for our audience.”
With executive experience at Discovery, HBO, and Yahoo!, Atkins has held leadership positions across development, digital media, production, strategy, marketing, product development, and consumer products. As GM and EVP of Digital Media and Strategy at Discovery, Atkins was responsible for driving the company’s original online video strategy and networks including Revision3, SourceFed, Discovery News, and TestTube. Atkins was a driving force behind Discovery’s 2012 acquisition of millennial-focused Revision3, among the first strategic acquisitions of a multi-channel network by a major media and entertainment company. He also drove content and product R&D at Discovery, shepherding innovative efforts including Discovery VR and the company’s programming JV with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, New Form Digital.
Prior to joining the Digital Media team, Atkins ran the West Coast for Discovery Studios, Discovery Communications’ full-service production studio that develops and produces original programming. In this role, Atkins managed development and production of all programming out of Los Angeles, and supervised series including “Penn & Teller Tell a Lie,” “King of the Crown,” “Deception with Keith Barry,” “Home Made Simple,” and “Ultimate Cake Off.”
Atkins joined Discovery Communications from HBO where, as Senior Vice President of Digital Media, he helped conceptualize and build the platform that ultimately became HBOGo. Previously, he was head of programming and development at Yahoo! Entertainment, where he oversaw content development, leading the company’s first comprehensive video strategy and repositioning several verticals to successfully target Millennial viewers.
Before Yahoo! Entertainment, Atkins was acting-COO for Vulcan Programming, a project with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures and A. Smith & Co. where he managed the development and creation of a slate of cable networks. Atkins served concurrently as Executive Vice President of A. Smith & Co, overseeing development and production for the company’s broad slate of projects with more than 20 networks.
Previously, Atkins held positions with Warner Bros., Mediaconnex and Disney. At Warner Bros., he headed up programming for Entertaindom, a new division that ultimately spanned all of Time Warner’s digital entertainment assets before leaving to become the founding CEO of an ad tech start-up Mediaconnex. Atkins started his career with Disney, helping develop numerous initiatives including the first international Disney Channels, original and co-produced shows, and the Disney/ABC Cable New Media group, which was responsible for managing the cable network’s internet and cross-media programming.