Sean Atkins boards MTV as president

Viacom-owned network MTV has appointed former Discovery Communications exec Sean Atkins (pictured) as president as Stephen Friedman exits the post to pursue social impact opportunities.
October 1, 2015

Viacom-owned network MTV has appointed former Discovery Communications exec Sean Atkins (pictured) as president.

The new role provides Atkins with oversight across all creative and business operations for the youth entertainment brand and sister networks MTV2 and mtvU. He will report to Doug Herzog, president of the Viacom Music and Entertainment Group.

The news of Atkins’ hire comes as MTV’s president of four years, Stephen Friedman, exits the company to pursue opportunities in the social impact field. The exec revealed his departure from MTV – which he first joined in 1998 – in an internal memo shared with staff. Viacom announced his exit yesterday (September 30).

Atkins most recently served as GM and exec VP of digital media and strategy for Discovery Communications, where he was responsible for driving the company’s original online video strategy and networks including Revision3, SourceFed, Discovery News and TestTube. He was primarily responsible for Discovery’s acquisition of the digital video content firm Revision3 in 2012.

MTV’s Lauren Dolgen, head of reality programming and exec VP of series development, and Mina Lefevre, exec VP and head of scripted development, will report directly to Atkins.

Prior to boarding the digital media team, Atkins headed Discovery Studios, Discovery Communications’ full-service production studio, overseeing the development and production of all programming out of LA. He managed such series as Penn & Teller Tell a Lie, King of the Crown Deception with Keith Barry, Home Made Simple and Ultimate Cake Off.

Atkins also served as senior VP of digital media at HBO as part of the team that built the platform that ultimately became HBOGo, and headed programming and development at Yahoo! Entertainment, overseeing content development and repositioning several verticals to successfully target millennial viewers.

“Sean is smart, creative, passionate and remarkably energized about the sea change at hand in our industry,” said Herzog in a statement. “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.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.