Viacom has found a new Nickelodeon president with plenty of experience in the kids’ genre: Brian Robbins.
The exec, who began his career as an actor before becoming a producer and director of several ’90s Nickelodeon shows and later became the founder and CEO of AwesomenessTV, has been named president of Nickelodeon, effective immediately.
He replaces Cyma Zarghami, who left in June after three decades at the network. Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, had been leading Nickelodeon on an interim basis as Viacom searched for Zarghami’s successor.
Robbins will be charged with trying to reverse ratings declines at the network and continuing to nurture the lucrative SpongeBob SquarePants franchise while finding new shows and brands for the network.
“Brian is a creative powerhouse who has spent his career on the front lines of our industry, anticipating and driving changes in television, film and digital media. With his unmatched credentials in kids’ entertainment and his firsthand knowledge of Nickelodeon, I have asked Brian to drive the innovation and transformation that will ensure the brand remains the dominant force with young audiences,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in a statement.
In his own statement, Robbins said, “Nickelodeon is one of the entertainment industry’s most vibrant and groundbreaking brands, with iconic properties, a deep culture of creativity and invention and an incredibly talented team of kids’ entertainment professionals. I’m thrilled to return to Nickelodeon and draw on its many strengths—including its rich library and rapidly growing studio production business—to deliver must-see content to kids on every platform around the world. During this time of upheaval in big media, I can’t wait to disrupt the disrupters.”
Robbins began his career as an actor, most notably on the ’80s ABC sitcom, Head of the Class. He soon moved behind the camera, producing and directing Nickelodeon series like All That and Kenan and Kel. This led to him directing several feature films, including Good Burger, Varsity Blues and Hardball.
Robbins founded AwesomenessTV in 2012 but left the company last year when was he was named president of Paramount Players, where he worked with Nickelodeon and Viacom’s other brands to find properties and actors in the portfolio to develop into feature films.