Nick Takes ‘Post-Millennial’ Tack

Network Hopes Youth Appeal Will Reverse Ratings Trend 3/03/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — Nickelodeon will turn its original programming focus toward serving post-millennial viewers in an effort to help revive its sagging ratings, network executives said during an upfront presentation.

The kids’ network unveiled several new animated projects, as well as two live-action family comedy series and multiplatform efforts targeted to viewers born after 2005, when Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami addressed advertising executives at Lincoln Center in New York last Tuesday (Feb. 26).

Zarghami admitted the network is coming off a “tough” year, facing increased competition from other networks targeting kids, while that millennial audience increasingly viewed content on multiple screens.

In 2012, Disney Channel topped Nickelodeon with the key demo of kids 2 to 11, ending Nick’s 17-year run. Disney just missed at beating out Nickelodeon among total viewers for the year.

As a result, Nickelodeon will focus attention and research on a post-millennial audience with comedy programming.

Gary Carr, senior vice president and executive director of national broadcast at TargetCast, said Nickelodeon has always had its finger on the pulse of the kids’ market, adding that its new lineup of animated and live-action shows looks promising for the network.

“One of the things Nickelodeon has always been good as is following what kids want — that’s how they’ve stayed so strong for so long,” he said after attending the upfront. “They’ve done a lot of research on the post-millennial audience, and they feel that’s [the audience] they want to target.”

Nick will add seven new original series to its robust lineup of animation and live action for the 2013-14 season, officials said.

The new animated series include Breadwinners, which follows two booty-shaking ducks as they operate a bread delivery service out of their van; and Sanjay & Craig, which chronicles two best friends — a boy and a snake — as they navigate through their preteen years.

Those two shows join previously announced series Rabbids, based on the successful Ubisoft video games, and Monsters vs. Aliens, based on the 2009 DreamWorks Animation feature film.

Nickelodeon also gave the green light to a third season of its hit animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as new episodes of series The Legend of Korra, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Odd- Parents, Winx Club, T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Robot and Monster.

On the live-action front, Nick later this year will premiere The Haunted Hathaways, in which a family moves into a haunted New Orleans house, and The Thundermans, a series featuring a suburban family with super powers.

Other new series previously announced include Wendell & Vinnie, which features iCarly star Jerry Trainor as a 30-yearold bachelor who becomes the legal guardian of his teen nephew, and Sam & Cat, which pairs Jeanette McCurdy (iCarly) and Ariana Grande (Victorious) as they reprise their respective series roles.

Nickelodeon will also add four new educational preschool series, including a spinoff of the popular series Dora the Explorer. Dora and Friends stars a 10-year-old Dora who goes on city adventures with a group of new friends, according to network officials.

Other series include Wallykazam!, an literacy- based animated series that offers rich narrative stories with the goal of helping kids fall in love with words and inspiring them to read; and Blaze and the Monster Machines, a CG-animated series that introduces preschoolers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. They join recently launched Peter Rabbit, an animated reimagining of the classic Beatrix Potter children’s books.

In addition, the network touted its recently launched Nick App as well as “Nick Studio 10,” an afternoon daypart featuring live sketch-comedy workshops and user-generated content that could serve as an incubator for future programming.