Shakeup at Ratings-Challenged Nickelodeon: Top Exec Behind ‘Dora the Explorer’ Franchise Gets the Boot

Aug 30, 2012  •  Post A Comment

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.

doratheexplorer.jpgDora the Explorer


  1. What Nick need sot do is look back to the 1990s and replicate the style and feeling of what was once a teen centered network.
    There were live shows, game shows, and sitcoms that did not talk down to people. There was also a large adult following.
    In the past decade Nick has aired a lot of series that treat their viewers as if they are kindergartners. Young people today are not nearly as naive as those in the past. Nick needs to start taking chances.
    One major step would be having the character Fred finally come out. This move would send a strong message about Nick moving into the future. And it would send the message that Nick is not a network focused on those with the mindset of a toddler.
    And finally they should look at bringing back their live game shows and developing new versions of Double Dare and You Can’t Do that On television. Nick needs to be fun again.

  2. I watch a lot of Nick with my five-year-old daughter. I’m just wondering: who’s Fred?

  3. Fred is a children’s musician who had a popular TVs series in the 80s and 90s called “Fred Penner’s Place” that aired on Nick Jr. and CBC.
    Unfortunately, this is the Fred that frenchjr25 was talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-CehxoJy0I

  4. Hmm. Don’t know what’s up here. My kids (9-12-15 yrs old) love “Victorious”, but that show’s not coming back.
    Now they mostly watch realty comp shows like ‘Cup Cake Wars’ and ‘Face-Off’. Maybe Nick needs to look that way…

  5. Fred is actually a character created by Lucas Cruikshank and is the lead in the current Nick series “Fred: The Show”. Nick has also done 3 Fred movies.
    Fred started as an internet character who had over 50 million viewers before switching to television. A CD was also released and there was a clothing line through Hot Topic.
    Fred is the most outrageously flamboyant characters on television today. Nickelodeon really could break their own barriers by allowing Fred to really be himself.

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