Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said a slew of new shows at its flagship kids’ network Nickelodeon beginning later this week should help pull the channel out of its ratings doldrums.
Nick has been under fire for the past several months as its ratings have dipped about 30% and it has lost its top spot to the rival Disney Channel. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York Wednesday, Dauman said that one of the causes of the ratings slide – not enough new programming – is being rectified.
Dauman said that during the next quarter and beyond, Nick has more than 70% more new original shows than it did at the comparable period last year. He added that the “avalanche” begins this Saturday (Sept. 21) with new episodes of Victorious, Big Time Rush and How to Rock. A week later marks the launch of its newest franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“As we have in the past with other networks where there have been issues, we’ve taken action,” Dauman said. “In the context of what is a large overall Viacom programming spend, we emphasize those areas that need help. Nickelodeon needed a little more help and we’ve given to them.”
Dauman also addressed distributor complaints of rising programming costs, adding that Viacom networks alone represent about 20% of aggregate cable ratings yet it charges affiliate fees that make up a much smaller fraction of overall content costs to distributors. And he said that distributors need look no further than their own operations if they are seeking the main cause of out of control programming rates.
“A lot of the absolute drivers of costs increases have been in the area of networks that specialize in sports, many of which ironically are owned by the distributors themselves, many of which charge for their individual channels more than we charge for all of our channels combined,” Dauman said.