MTV programming chief Susanne Daniels to exit after three years

MTV is the latest Viacom-owned network to undergo some executive changes.

A day after it was announced that VH1 President Tom Calderone would step down from his post after seven years comes word that MTV programming chief Susanne Daniels is leaving the network after three years, according to an internal memo to MTV staff.

Daniels, a former top executive at Lifetime and the now-gone WB Network and a consultant at Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, joined the MTV fold in 2012, succeeding David Janollari in the position. She came on board at a time when the cable network was experiencing a ratings slide and was on the verge of losing its signature hit, “Jersey Shore.”

MTV’s ratings troubles haven’t steadied much since then as the network, once a haven for youth, sees its target audience gravitate toward mobile devices. In the first quarter of 2015, ratings for MTV’s target demographic were down 29% compared with the same period last year.


During her short time at the network, she oversaw the launch of scripted series “Finding Carter” and “Faking It” and, most recently, “Scream.”

“She’s been a strong creative talent for the brand, a thoughtful leader for the organization, and a great partner for me,” wrote MTV President Stephen Friedman in the staff memo. “I will personally miss her terrific sense of humor, her warmth and candor, and those wonderful occasions when she accidentally hangs up on a 40-person VC. ... We wish her all the best.”

Daniels is leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” Friedman wrote. And it seems heading to YouTube, the entertainment destination for today’s youth, for a newly created position to lead its original content initiative is one of them.

The official title Daniels takes on is vice president of YouTube originals, and she will oversee development and production of the video platform as it attempts to push its original efforts to new heights.


The veteran executive will begin her new charge at YouTube in the fall and will report to Robert Kyncl, global head of content and business operations at YouTube.

“Susanne is an executive whose incredible instincts have led her to consistently generate pop culture hits that audiences relate to and root for,” said Kyncl in a statement. “Susanne’s deep expertise in programming will be invaluable to us and our top creators and help them foster even more ambitious projects for YouTube.”

Alex Carloss, who has led YouTube’s original programming efforts, will stay on. His team will now report to Daniels.

Prior to her stint at MTV, Daniels had a strong track record of dramas aimed at teens and young adults (WB’s “Dawson’s Creek,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and helped reinvent Lifetime with series such as “Army Wives” and “Drop Dead Diva.”


Friedman also announced that Mina Lefevre has been promoted to executive vice president and head of scripted programming, a growing portion of MTV’s output. She’ll report directly to Friedman.

Lefevre had previously served as senior vice president and head of scripted programming at the network and oversaw projects such as “Scream” and “Finding Carter,” and developed the network’s upcoming “The Shannara Chronicles.” She came to MTV in 2013 from ABC Family, where she served as vice president of development and programming.

“MTV is a great place to take risks and create smart, fun projects that tell unique, youthful stories, and I’m excited to take on a greater role as we bring more original series to our audience,” Lefevre said.

Meanwhile, reality head and executive vice president of series development Lauren Dolgen will remain in her position, where she will report directly to Friedman.


Twitter: @villarrealy