Marketing

'Nick’ Of Time For Rebrand

3/01/2009 9:00 AM Eastern

Nickelodeon wants to give its offspring channels The N and Noggin the family name.

In an effort to strengthen the already venerable kids and family-oriented Nickelodeon brand, Nick will rename its toddler-targeted Noggin network as Nick Jr. and its teen-tinged The N service as TeenNick later this year.

NogginThe two services will join Nick at Nite and Nicktoons under the Nickelodeon-branded umbrella of networks. Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami said the rebranding effort — along with its strong online presence from acquired gaming service AddictingGames and youth-oriented virtual community Neopets — is part of the programmer’s effort to establish the nearly 30-year old Nickelodeon brand as the pre-eminent multimedia brand for toddlers, tweens, teens and their parents.

“With the first generation of Nickelodeon viewers now Nickelodeon parents, we have an opportunity to wrap our arms around the first generation of Nick families,” Zarghami said. “The growth that we’ve seen says that we’re not cannibalizing any part of our business for another, but we’re growing the whole.”

The move comes as Nickelodeon aggressively battles The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Channel and ABC Family, as well as Turner Broadcasting System’s Cartoon Network, for the hearts and minds of kids and their parents.

But Katz Television Media Group vice president and director of programming Bill Carroll said the ability to connect various like services under one brand benefits both the parent Nickelodeon brand and the soon-to-be-renamed networks. The N airs original teen-targeted series such as Degrassi, while Noggin offers such Nickelodeon kids-oriented shows as Dora the Explorer.

The N“The N and Noggin are clever and cute names, but TeenNick and Nick Jr. say what both networks are,” he said. “Once you’ve established what Nickelodeon is, anyway you can extend that is a good thing for all parties involved.”

Not that The N and Noggin — which were split in 2007 after sharing time on the same channel — were struggling brands. Both networks set February viewership records among total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The N and Noggin also set monthly viewership marks among their respective demos, teens 12 to 17 and kids 2 to 5.

Zarghami believes the addition of the Nick brand to both networks will further enhance their image and standing among viewers. “Over time, what I hope will happen is what the brand stands for in the consumer’s mind will start to shift a bit for the better,” she said.

As a result of the rebranding, the parent Nickelodeon channel will eliminate the Nick Jr. brand from its 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekday toddler-targeted programming block, as well as the Teen Nick brand from its Saturday night 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. content block. Zarghami said consumer tests revealed that the blocks had strong identities that actually overshadowed the overall Nickelodeon brand.

“When we asked people what were their favorite live-action shows, they would say iCarly on Teen Nick, not necessarily on Nickelodeon,” she said. “What we’re hoping will eventually come out of people’s mouths is that we love iCarly or Degrassi from Nickelodeon.”

From an advertising standpoint, Zarghami said the move could allow the network to create demo-based packages across several Nick channels, although the network is not currently offering any such packages in the marketplace.

“If you want to reach boys for example, there soon will be a day where we are able to say there are this many boys that watch SpongeBob [SquarePants] on Nickelodeon, this many boys that watch Nicktoons and there are this many boys who are using AddictingGames two hours a day,” she said. “Here’s a package of inventory that will allow you to maximize your reach against that particular audience.”

While boys-targeted Nicktoons and adult-oriented Nick at Nite will remain unchanged, Zarghami left the door open for a potential re-merging of Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite to better build co-viewing opportunities among kids and their parents. Though they share the same channel berth, Nick and Nick at Nite were split into two separate networks for Nielsen ratings purposes in 2004.

Nick has been successful in drawing more adult viewers with specials such as its annual Kids’ Choice Awards, while Nick at Nite acquisitions like The George Lopez Show and Family Matters have drawn younger viewers.

“I think absolutely, over time, we can explore that,” Zarghami said. Right now it doesn’t feel like the right moment because the audience for sales is so different that there are business reasons to leave them alone right now. But over time I think that’s something we can explore.”

Nick’s Sandbox
February* viewership for Nickelodeon-owned cable channels:

Network Total viewers
* Period from Jan. 26 – Feb. 24. Total day average.
+ Network record viewership for February
SOURCE: Nielsen Media Research
Nick at Nite 1.4 million
Nickelodeon 2.2 million
Noggin 529,000+
The N 210,000+
Nicktoons 128,000+
October
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