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Cyma Zarghami, president of Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group, made a guest appearance Thursday on the entertainment conglomerate’s quarterly earnings conference call to discuss the success of Nickelodeon, which is the company’s biggest business.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish introduced her by highlighting that Nickelodeon has been a great example for the new strategy the company has started pursuing under him. That includes focusing on flagship brands, making them international players, pursuing an aggressive programming strategy and developing branded movies with Paramount, as well as building out licensing, merchandise and retail opportunities.
As such, Bakish suggested that Nickelodeon’s approach provides a blueprint for the rest of Viacom’s businesses, saying it has set itself up to do what the company wants all its core brands to do. “Under Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon has already built a strong foundation for what we’re trying to achieve with all our flagship brands,” he said.
Nickelodeon has made gains in relation to such rivals as Disney Channel after several years ago being viewed by Wall Street as ratings- and growth-challenged.
Zarghami shared some of her strategies and insights into the success, including highlighting that the brand has been able to create more content via a centralized approach to international production.
She lauded her Nickelodeon team for continuously rolling out fresh content and using cross-platform marketing efforts to support programming.
Highlighting key brands, the exec mentioned Paw Patrol as the No. 1 preschool property. And she said that “we are also laying the groundwork for the launch next year of an all-new animated series for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles .”
She also confirmed that “there will definitely be another SpongeBob movie” with Paramount.
Zarghami said they are also developing film projects for Nickelodeon series Henry Danger and The Loud House.
Bakish said before the development of new hit brands, the network was often seen as the SpongeBob channel.
Merchandising products and in-person experiences, such as in theme parks, are also continuously being developed at Nickelodeon, said Zarghami. And she mentioned the recent creation of an entertainment lab, a technology incubator for experimenting with virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
“We will continue to be laser-focused on cementing our brand position in the hearts and minds of the next generation of kids and families,” vowed Zarghami.
It wasn’t immediately clear if other top executives from different parts of Viacom would appear on future earnings calls. But the company’s decision to let Wall Street hear from a key executive and get a better understanding of her strategy is in contrast to former CEO Philippe Dauman, who tended not to share the spotlight much.
Bakish has made clear that the success of Viacom will not all depend on him, but a broader leadership team and staff across the company.
Tweeted BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield: “#interesting $VIAB Head of @Nickelodeon is on the @Viacom earnings call – believe that has never happened before#.”
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