'Coming to life on the ground'
With all the globetrotting, will he ever be in Nickelodeon's New York offices?
"I hope so -- I just bought an apartment!" Mr. Levine, 34, said on the phone last week from London. "It's just brilliant when you see it all coming to life on the ground."
Mr. Levine has helped bring a lot to life for Nickelodeon in his 10 years with MTV Networks International, from his beginnings as a press and marketing manager at the then-fledgling Nickelodeon Australia in 1997 to his stint as director-marketing and communication for MTVNI in 2001 to his most recent support in trade marketing for the company's global ad sales.
Throughout that time period, Nickelodeon has stretched out across Europe to become the continent's most widely distributed children's network, reaching 205 million households in 13 languages across 76 territories. Each network is more distinct and reflective of its own home country from the next, including Italy, he said.
"It looks like a totally different channel. It's a mix of some of the stuff -- we've traveled 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'Dora The Explorer' everywhere, but they have a whole bunch of successful afternoon shows and an off-air summer tour, which was a great vehicle for them."
Asia Pacific is also growing steadily, with 110.4 million households and more to come with the addition of Pakistan.
"We'll be there wherever kids are to provide them with the best entertainment they're interested in at that time," Mr. Levine said.
Domestically, competitors have stepped up to steal some of Nickelodeon's thunder, some more successfully (Disney, Cartoon Network) than others (NBC's Discovery Kids).
What keeps Nickelodeon as the No. 1-ranked kids' network -- in addition to Dora and SpongeBob, of course -- is its continued dedication to audience demographics.
"Research is everything," Mr. Levine said. "That's something we pride ourselves on -- understanding our audience and understanding kids. They'll tell us what they want and we try to stay at the forefront with our digital platforms and website as well."
As for what keeps Mr. Levine motivated, it's his ongoing love affair with the network.
"I absolutely love it. It's such amazing brand programming -- a fun, safe haven for kids that celebrates being a kid. It's diverse, it's live action, it's animation, it's game shows. We're constantly at the forefront of where kids are and what kids are doing," he said.