Nickelodeon, struggling to find its footing amid a persistent ratings slump, has shaken things up in the executive ranks, pushing out Brown Johnson, the network’s animation chief and the executive most responsible for the channel’s hit cartoon "Dora the Explorer," reports the Los Angeles Times.
The move comes after the network experienced a 25% drop in its target demo of viewers 2 to 11 this summer, compared with a year ago, the story notes.
"Wall Street has been getting impatient with Viacom, questioning whether Nickelodeon has relied too heavily on older and fading franchises, including ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’," the article notes.
Johnson is leaving "to pursue her own creative endeavors," Nickelodeon said in a statement. She worked as its president of animation for four years, and was with the network for two decades, according to the piece.
She was key to some of the network’s biggest hits, including "Blues Clues." Her work behind the scenes of “Dora the Explorer” helped turn that cartoon into a multibillion-dollar franchise for Nickelodeon and was a key to the network’s success over the past 10 years, the report notes.
The shakeup consolidates Nickelodeon’s operations in Los Angeles, with Chief Creative Officer Russell Hicks now running its West Coast operations. He was also promoted to president of content development and production for the Nickelodeon group.
Margie Cohn, who has been in charge of live-action programming, is also affected by the personnel changes. Cohn split responsibility for West Coast operations with Johnson, according to the story.
Cohn will continue to see live-action programming development, although she no longer reports to Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami, the piece adds.
Nick is betting heavily on the new CGI “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which bows next month, the report notes.