Brad Schwartz, who oversaw TV Guide Network’s rebrand into Pop TV and created a home for smart comedies like Schitt’s Creek and One Day at a Time, is exiting the network.
The Pop TV president is leaving for Audible, where he will serve as chief content officer. He’ll report to Bob Carrigan, who was named Audible CEO last December.
“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,” said Carrigan in a statement. “Brad brings not only a wealth of experience but an unwavering focus on innovation, creativity and customer delight. I am confident Brad will spearhead the next chapter in Audible’s evolution as a global digital entertainment leader.”
The move comes after a change in Pop TV’s strategy following last December’s merger between CBS, which had bought out Lionsgate’s stake in Pop to become the network’s sole owner, and Viacom.
“I have been an Audible member for years, and I am enormously excited and inspired by its strategy for the future. Audible continues to forge new paths in bringing premium storytelling and original IP to the ever-expanding audio segment of our industry,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz joined what was then the TV Guide Network in 2013, and oversaw its January 2015 rebrand as Pop, with Schitt’s Creek as the new network’s first original series.
Pop had its biggest year ever last year, as Schitt’s Creek finally broke into the Emmy race in its fifth season, landing four nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Best Actor and Best Actress. The network then picked up One Day at a Time last June, three months after Netflix canceled the sitcom.
Schwartz had told Adweek last summer that he was cautiously optimistic about Pop’s future following the CBS-Viacom merger: “I think there’s room for a successful broad general entertainment network. We’ll see. We don’t know.”
But in January, a month after the merger was finalized, ViacomCBS moved oversight of Pop TV from the Showtime group to the entertainment and youth brands group headed up by Chris McCarthy (who also oversees of MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Comedy Central, TV Land, Paramount Network and Smithsonian Channel).
That organizational change led to a shift in network direction, and Pop canceled three of its original shows in March: Flack (which has just been picked up by Amazon), Florida Girls and Best Intentions.
With Schitt’s Creek airing its series finale in April, that left One Day at a Time as the only remaining scripted series on Pop TV, which made Schwartz’s departure more likely, especially given the exits of the network chiefs at Comedy Central/Paramount Network/TV Land (Kent Alterman) and the Smithsonian Channel (Tom Hayden) following their reorganization under McCarthy.
Schwartz’s position won’t be filled: ViacomCBS’ entertainment and youth group now has a single head of content, marketing, research and communications for the entire portfolio, reporting up to McCarthy.
Before working at Pop, Schwartz was svp of programming and operations for Fuse, and previously worked as general manager of eight Canada cable networks, including MTV Canada and MuchMusic, and also launched Vevo in Canada.