Nick Loses Scannell, Restructures

Herb Scannell plans to step down as vice chairman of MTV Networks and president of Nickelodeon Networks. After nearly 20 years with the Viacom networks, Scannell says he is ready to move on to the next leadership position, but has not said where he plans to go. His departure will be accompanied by a restructuring of the Nickelodeon Networks management structure.

Scannell joined Nickelodeon in 1988 as director of programming and rose through the ranks to the post of president in 1996. By ushering in such hit shows as Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues, he has kept the network at No. 1 with kids for ten straight years and has expanded brands into consumer products, movies and digital media. His tenure saw the opening of Nickelodeon’s animation studio in Burbank, Calif., as well as the launch of a feature film division, which has to date released 14 movies.

Under Scannell’s leadership, Nick’s consumer products division has grown into the third largest licensing company in the world, boasting more than $4 billion in retail revenues in 2005. Nickelodeon has also emerged as a leading online destination for kids with the launch of its TurboNick broadband platform and the recent acquisition of Neopets, a hugely popular virtual pet site.

“I have great faith in the management teams in place at Nickelodeon, TV Land and Spike TV, and am confident that these networks will continue their outstanding performance and maintain the extraordinary bonds with their audiences that have made them so successful,’ Scannell comments. ‘I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to lead such an exceptional team, which has built some of the strongest brands in our business.”

Management restructuring efforts will put Nickelodeon Television president Cyma Zarghami in charge of a newly formed MTVN Kids and Family group, which will include Nickelodeon Television, Nick at Nite, Nick Online, Nick Movies, Noggin/The N, Nicktoons Television, Nickelodeon Games and Sports (Nick GAS), as well as Nickelodeon’s magazine and recreation divisions and Nickelodeon’s new digital businesses, including Neopets.

A 20-year veteran of Nickelodeon, Zarghami most recently introduced the popular animated series The Backyardigans, Go, Diego, Go!, The X’s and Catscratch. Under her leadership in 2005, Nickelodeon owned the top 30-rated shows with kids 2-11 on all broadcast and cable television.

Another restructuring move will place Nickelodeon Networks’ TV Land under the thumb of president Doug Herzog, who oversees Spike TV and Comedy Central. TV Land president Larry Jones will continue to lead Nick at Nite, reporting to both Herzog and Zarghami.