Not Sponge-worthy, after all: Scannell departs Viacom in Nick of time

News that Herb Scannell is leaving Viacom hit the wires today via press release.

This was, according to insiders, hardly the sort of revelation that had cable watchers wetting their Dora the Explorer underpants in shock. No, when Tom Freston picked Judy McGrath to run MTV Networks last summer, guess who lost out? Herb Scannell.

McGrath is in her early fifties, and Scannell in his late forties. Waiting her out, one insdusty watcher notes, wasn’t an option – even for the well-regarded, low-ego Scannell. But neither was sticking around while his career languished. Many think Scannell could eventually run, say, Disney.

It’s not clear if his contract wasn’t renewed because he’d asked that he be able to leave if not promoted by a certain point (the timing of just after New Year’s suggests as much), or whether things simply came to a head with McGrath. Whatever the case, Scannell has no immediate job lined up, but shouldn’t have too hard a time finding one, either: Few, if any, cable channels can boast of a billion dollars in profits, as Nick did in the 2005-06 fiscal year.

In the meantime, he’s headed with his wife and two kids to Puerto Rico to figure out what comes next. Stay tuned.