As expected, George Cheeks will succeed Joe Iannielleo as president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, ViacomCBS said Friday. Ianniello, chairman and CEO of CBS, will be departing.
The announcement comes after Cheeks left NBCUniversal, where he most recently served as vice chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios. Two weeks ago, reports began surfacing that he was exiting NBCU to take the reins of CBS, which the company officially confirmed Friday.
Cheeks starts his new role March 23.
Before joining NBC in 2012, Cheeks was executive vice president, business affairs and general counsel for Viacom Music and Entertainment Group as well as head of standards and practices for Viacom Media. Prior to that, he served in legal roles at Nickelodeon, MTV, CMT and Logo.
“I am thrilled to welcome George back to the family at this exciting moment for ViacomCBS,” said ViacomCBS President and CEO Bob Bakish to whom Cheeks will report. “Throughout his career, George has built broad experience in broadcast and studio operations and brings a unique mix of skills – combining deep commercial expertise and industry relationships with strong creative and programming capabilities. With his finger on the pulse of culture and change and his strong grasp of strategy, brands, audiences and content monetization, George will help CBS build on its position as the most-watched broadcast network and drive results across the entire CBS portfolio.”
Earlier in his career, Cheeks held positions at Castle Rock Entertainment and the law firms Loeb & Loeb and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman. He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Ianniello, who took the reins at CBS in the wake of Leslie Mooves’ departure after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, is leaving the company after 22 years.
“I am very pleased to be able to leave CBS well positioned for long-term success,” said Joe Ianniello. “Throughout my 22-year tenure I have always said that the quality and integrity of the people of CBS are what make it great. We have extraordinary employees at all levels of this organization, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they do their jobs day in and day out. Working with Bob, I now look forward to ensuring a smooth transition to the next phase of leadership of CBS, so that the Eye can continue to thrive, just as it has for so long.”
Prior to becoming president and acting CEO in September 2018, Ianniello had served as CBS’ chief operating officer since 2013. In that role, he oversaw CBS’ cross-platform distribution and monetization strategies as well as retransmission consent fees and reverse compensation from local television station affiliates. He also worked to license CBS content globally for digital streaming and broadband services. He oversaw the launch of CBS’ subscription video on demand service, CBS All Access, as well as Showtime’s over-the-top offering. He led CBS’ acquisitions of Australia’s Network 10 and the split off of CBS Radio through a merger with Entercom.