Inside Baseball: MTV Networks

The recent staffing changes over at MTV Networks made us curious: What exactly is going on at everyone's favorite former home of music videos? A former Viacom staffer is on hand to answer our questions. After the jump, analysis and what's probably a little axe-grinding. Either way, it's not a pretty picture. Much like that shot of MTV Global Digital Media Whatever Mika Salmi.

  • WOLF OUT: I have no idea about the spell that consultants seem to be able to weave over senior executives. These guys (and girls) know absolutely nothing about the real world (or Road Rules for that matter), yet always frame themselves as the perfect hire. Everything they do is theoretical and can only succeed in a vacuum. The fact that Wolf bombed out is totally unsurprising. Give a consultant like him a spreadsheet and an organization chart and you're golden. Give him the rudder of your ship and expect to hit a reef.
  • AFFILIATE SALES PEOPLE: Viacom's networks sell themselves. To pay someone what people like Nicole Browning made to sell those networks is abject foolishness. You could get a college sophomore to do what they do, and you wouldn't have to give them a fat expense account to do it.
  • BEAN COUNTERS TO THE FRONT: Appointing someone like Eigendorff says to me that a lot of heads are going to roll, and soon. He's a bottom line guy, and people like that always think cutting costs is the best way to do that, even if that means sacrificing talent that could be reapplied. There is a ton of talent in that company, and when they're allowed some freedom the results are great (Ozzy's hit show was a producer's idea, as were many other successful concepts). With a bean counter at the helm, those people won't get opportunities, other than ones that involve updating their resumes.
  • IN THE END: Freston and McGrath have the same understanding of new media as your average canasta playing senior in Boca Raton. Jason Hirschorn, the guy they banked on to lead them, and who golden parachuted his incredibly fortunate ass to SlingBox, was little more than a guy that parlayed a fan boy website into a job he couldn't handle. YouTube, Gawker, MySpace, etc. are the future, and MTV, etc. are the past because Viacom lacks vision.
    Viacom totally and completely fucked up their digital plays. Viacom needs to unleash a real paradigm shift in their business model, and perhaps these are the first moves in getting that done. But as long as the CEO is a 100-year-old curmudgeon, don't count on that happening anytime soon or in any sort of successful fashion. Ad dollars are heading to the web in droves, and Viacom is ill prepared to get many of them.

    Earlier: Gawker's coverage of MTV