Michael Wolf, MTV Networks President, Out

Post to Be Filled With 'Acquisitions Expert'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Michael Wolf has left MTV Networks after a little more than a year as president-chief operating officer.
Michael Wolf
Michael Wolf

"For me this was a great transition from management consulting to a key operating role," he said. "I got to work closely with Judy, who I'd worked with for 12 years before I came here," referring to MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath.

Mr. Wolf, 45, came to MTV Networks in November 2005 after many years as a consultant. Most recently he was a managing partner of the media, entertainment and information practice at McKinsey & Co., where he worked several times with MTV Networks. Prior to that, he was a senior partner at Booz Allen & Hamilton, where he founded and led the firm's media and entertainment group.

One-year agreement
An MTV Networks spokeswoman said Mr. Wolf's leaving is unrelated to either Michael Dolan's recent exit as Viacom's chief financial officer or Tom Freston's September departure from the CEO post. Not surprisingly, after Mr. Freston left much talk swirled around an MTV management shakeup, and Mr. Wolf's name was frequently mentioned.

"When Michael came, it was sort of like a short horizon," said MTV Networks spokeswoman Lauren Hurvitz. "He and Judy agreed he wouldn't be here more than a year. ... He really devoted his whole year to us which Judy had asked him to do. And I think he accomplished a lot of goals Judy had set out to him."

'Timing is everything'
"While I was here we built up a digital organization, a digital ad sales organization, put together deals with cable operators, internet companies, VOD companies, wireless companies and helping make MTV Networks into one of the top destinations on the internet," he said. "Timing is everything and this was a good time."

Mr. Wolf didn't comment on his next step but he is expected to be leaving MTV Networks for a new job; he is still negotiating his exit from the company. He will stay on for the next month or so, he said, as he transitions out of the company. He said he began talking to Ms. McGrath about leaving before the holidays.

Seeking: acquisitions expert
He said his proudest accomplishment was MTV Networks' content-syndication deal over the summer with Google. "We cut the first video-distribution deal on the internet with Google, which really set the stage for what would happen over the rest of industry," he said.

Ms. Hurvitz said this gives MTV Networks the opportunity to recast the chief operating officer job. And what is MTV looking for in its next COO? "A strategic business partner and also someone who's a real acquisitions expert," Ms. Hurvitz said.

Also leaving MTV Networks today is Nicole Browning, who led affiliate sales and marketing during her two-decade career with the company. In her role, she worked to secure and maintain distribution for all of the MTV Networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Spike TV.

Another Viacom division, Paramount Studios, also had a shakeup this week when President Gail Berman stepped down. She will not be replaced, the studio said.
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