Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Group and the top-ranking executive at the children’s network, is stepping down. She had worked at the network for more than 30 years.
Viacom said today that it will conduct a “comprehensive search for a successor to lead Nickelodeon.” In the meantime, Sarah Levy, chief operating officer of Viacom Media Networks, will lead the brand on an interim basis.
The Nickelodeon brand currently has a content pipeline of “more than 800 new episodes,” which it will launch across multiple platforms over the next year.
“Over the course of her career, Cyma has played an integral role in growing Nickelodeon into the dominant force in kids’ entertainment,” said Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom. “Her instincts for creating content and experiences that kids love have been vital to the brand’s success around the world. Looking to the future, we are excited to build on this strong foundation as we continue to evolve the business and connect with young audiences in new and innovative ways. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Cyma for her leadership and wish her every success.”
Born in Iran, Zarghami joined Nickelodeon as a scheduling clerk in 1985. She worked her way through programming positions, and became the network’s general manager in 1996. When Herb Scannell resigned as president in January 2006, Zarghami took over the top role.
Bakish identified six “flagship” brands after he became CEO and president of Viacom in late-2016: BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and Paramount. With the departure of Zarghami, all of those brands have now changed leadership over the past year-and-a-half as part of Bakish’s reorganization plans.
Deadline obtained the letters that Bakish sent to Nickelodeon and Viacom staff today. They are below:
Letter from Bob Bakish To Nickelodeon Staff
We are announcing today that Cyma Zarghami is stepping down from her role as President of Nickelodeon Group, and I wanted to let all of you know first, before I notify the rest of the company.
I don’t have to tell any of you how much Cyma has meant to Nickelodeon, and how her leadership has helped lead the brand to success after success over the course of her incredible four decades at the company. She is a true pioneer, championing Nick’s growth from a niche cable channel early on to the groundbreaking global powerhouse it is today.
It is never easy to say goodbye, but her legacy here is long, and she leaves behind an incredible team of smart, dedicated people who are a model of creativity and collaboration across the industry. I have full confidence in all of you that the Nickelodeon brand will continue to grow and thrive as we provide kids and families with the very best entertainment content available anywhere.
We are going to conduct a comprehensive search process for Cyma’s successor, and on an interim basis, Sarah Levy will be leading Nickelodeon in addition to her responsibilities as COO of Viacom Media Networks. Many of you know Sarah from her own long tenure at Nick, and you will be hearing more from her soon.
Please join me in thanking Cyma for her many contributions to Nickelodeon and to Viacom and wishing her every success in the future. I also want to thank you all for everything you do each day to further evolve and grow this great brand. I’m looking forward to working together to shape Nickelodeon’s exciting next chapter.
Letter from Bob Bakish To Viacom Staff
I want to let you all know that Cyma Zarghami is stepping down from her role as President of Nickelodeon Group.
Over the course of more than 30 years, Cyma has played an integral role in growing Nickelodeon into the dominant force in kids’ entertainment. Those of you who have worked alongside her know that her passion for Nickelodeon is second to none, and her instincts for creating content and experiences kids love have been vital to the brand’s success around the world.
Having risen through the ranks beginning in 1985, Cyma’s career spans Nickelodeon’s explosive growth and expansive influence as both a brand and a giant, successful business, guiding it into new areas beyond its unparalleled TV leadership, like feature films, consumer products, recreation, digital and beyond. From the single cable channel Nick once was, to the multiplatform entity it is today, Cyma’s contributions have been immeasurable, and her success has stemmed from her devotion to Nickelodeon’s mission to make the world a more playful place for kids everywhere.
While we conduct a comprehensive search process for Cyma’s successor, Sarah Levy will lead the brand on an interim basis as it begins its next chapter, in addition to her responsibilities as COO of Viacom Media Networks. Sarah previously spent nearly 20 years at Nickelodeon, including a decade as its Chief Operating Officer, and knows the Nickelodeon brand inside and out. She also brings valuable experience managing operations across our entire portfolio, and couldn’t be better positioned to offer her support and guidance.
As we all know, this transition comes during a moment of immense change and opportunity across our industry, particularly within kids’ entertainment. Nickelodeon was the first truly flagship brand in the house – spanning TV, digital, film and real world experiences – and it continues to evolve and grow as quickly as our audiences do, too.
I’m proud to say that Nickelodeon continues to make big, important moves to lead in this new landscape – from its pipeline of 800 new episodes this year (the brand’s largest ever), to the launch of Noggin on Amazon Channels, and SlimeFest’s upcoming and long-awaited U.S. debut in Chicago. Nickelodeon will also play a key role in our refreshed 2019 Paramount film slate with its co-branded films, Wonder Park and Dora the Explorer. And I’m confident that Sarah and the outstanding team at Nickelodeon will continue to accelerate the brand’s exciting push into new and next-generation viewing platforms, film, live experiences and consumer products.
Please join me in thanking Cyma for her many contributions to Nickelodeon and wishing her every success in the future.