Bakish: No Management Changes at Nickelodeon

After published reports indicated that a shake-up is imminent at Nickelodeon, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish insisted that there’s been “no change in leadership” at the kids’ network.

Speaking on Viacom’s earnings call Thursday, Bakish confirmed that Sarah Levy has been promoted to a newly created position at COO of Viacom Media Networks.

“That means we’re bringing all our media networks’ shared services under one structure,” Bakish said. “And to be clear, this is about shared support structure, it is an extension of the responsibilities Sarah’s held for the last year. And that extension is to BET and to Nickelodeon.”

Published reports indicated that Levy's new position reduced the influence of long-time Nickelodeon head Cyma Zarghami. The reports also said that Zarghami's contract was due to expire and that it wasn't clear if she'd remain at the company.

Related: Management Changes Coming to Nickelodeon: Report

Levy and the brand presidents will continue to report to Bakish.

“As with our other efforts the intent here is to streamline our structure, break down silos and assure we’re as efficient and agile as we can be,” Bakish said.

Last year, Levy was named COO of Viacom’s Global Entertainment Group. The post gave her oversight into content distribution, finance, business and human resources at networks including MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.

Previously, Levy was COO of the Viacom Kids and Family Group and COO of Nickelodeon.

During the call, Bakish was asked about soft ratings at Nick during the quarter.

“We’re actively working to address it in two parallel paths,” Bakish said.

On the television network, Nick has about 400 premiere episodes coming up across 15 strong series, he said.

“We will be supplementing that with some incremental stunting and marketing,” Bakish said.

Bakish said Nick was also working to build its non-TV impression by ramping up its social video strategy.

He also said the company was looking to grow its Noggin subscription service for pre-schoolers by adding the Paw Patrol franchise and more educational content and “supporting all that with some increased marketing.

Away from screens, Nick has SpongeBob the Musical attacking Broadway, and Slimefest, a property that’s popular in Europe.

“So a lot of work is going on at Nickelodeon, and I’m feeling very good about what the team is doing there,” he said.

Nick at Nite’s ratings have also been soft, and the company has moved the sitcoms Two and a Half Men and The Goldbergs there, along with airing movies a couple of nights a week.

“We’ve seen [Nick at Nite] ratings already start to move in the right direction,” Bakish said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.