Cyma Zarghami has stepped down as president of Nickelodeon Group after more than 30 years with the network. Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom, announced the news to the Nickelodeon and Viacom teams in an internal memo, in which he noted Zarghami’s efforts in bringing Nickelodeon from a specialty cable channel to a multiplatform juggernaut.
“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,” says Bakish. “She is a true pioneer, championing Nick’s growth from a niche cable channel early on to the groundbreaking global powerhouse it is today.”
Viacom is now beginning a search for a successor to lead Nickelodeon, but in the interim, Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, will be leading the brand. She will be working closely with Nick’s leadership team to manage the brand’s operations and trying to launch its largest-ever content pipeline, including 800 new episodes. Levy has been at Nickelodeon for nearly 20 years, and her recent promotion and the addition of BET and Nickelodeon to her portfolio sparked rumors that Zarghami’s role at the company was coming to a close, something that Bakish vehemently denied at the time.
In the internal memo, Bakish noted that he was telling Nickelodeon first before the rest of the company, and expressed that Zarghami is a “model of creativity and collaboration across the industry.” She started at Nickelodeon in 1985 and has helped moved the kidsnet from a cable channel to a multiplatform entity.
“As we all know, this transition comes during a moment of immense change and opportunity across our industry, particularly within kids entertainment,” says Bakish. “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.”
Zarghami spoke with Kidscreen back in 2011 to discuss her career at Nickelodeon up to that point, having worked her way up from scheduling clerk before joining the programming team and discovering she had a real knack for the biz.