Marjorie Cohn will be celebrating her 24th year at Nickelodeon next month, and she doesn’t need any reminders to mark the passing time.
“I was the executive in charge of ‘Clarissa Explains It All,’ and now Melissa Joan Hart has two kids and a new show of her own,” Cohn says, laughing. “It’s been a wild, fun ride.”
Cohn, president of original programming and development at Nickelodeon, has overseen the network as it has put together 62 consecutive quarters as the top basic cable network with kids ages 2-11 and total viewers. Powered by the success of such shows as “iCarly,” “Big Time Rush” and “Victorious,” the network just enjoyed the highest-rated quarter in its 31-year history.
“I’d like to say we’re smoking on all cylinders,” Cohn says.
Cohn cites the basic tenet of respecting kids and not talking down to them as the main reason behind Nickelodeon’s continued success. It also doesn’t hurt, she adds, that parents don’t feel like they’re “taking a hit” if they sit down and watch the network’s programs with their kids.
“Parents often tell us they sneak around their kids’ backs for an episode of ‘iCarly’ or ‘Spongebob,’ ” Cohn says. “We’ve become more inclusive. The shows are surprising and playful and diverse.”
Those qualities were evident in Nickelodeon’s recent two-hour offering “Fred: The Movie,” inspired by the YouTube videos created by Lucas Cruikshank. Fred’s high-pitched whine of a voice might not be music to everyone’s ears, but the movie roped in 38 million viewers over its four debut-weekend airings.
“We like to celebrate the individual, and you don’t get any more individual than Fred,” Cohn says.