Reflective of more Americans staying up late and watching more TV, MTV Networks will divide measurement of Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite starting next week.
MTVN said Wednesday that beginning with Nielsen Media Research’s second quarter March 29, the kids’ service and the retro fare that follows it on the same channel will be gauged separately -- positioning that is more representative of their respective audiences and their value to advertisers.
MTVN executive vice president of research and planning Betsy Frank, in a letter to the industry, said the move follows ongoing conversations and focus-group results in which "advertisers have expressed their preference to have Nick at Nite represented separately in ratings data in order to easily see its performance."
In an interview, Frank said MTVN had been talking with advertisers and Nielsen about affecting this change for "well over a year," and it previously had been "a cumbersome procedure" for advertisers to extract ratings data for Nick at Nite, which posed an impediment to business opportunities. "This will make it a lot easier for advertisers to access data," she added.
Frank said MTVN would pay more to Nielsen for the separation of service measurements. "This changes the parameters of the reporting, but it doesn’t change the delivery of those viewers," she added.
Frank’s missive also mentioned other reasons for separation: The networks’ programming schedules do not conform to standard total-day and primetime measures; current Nielsen data don't reflect their true audience delivery, especially Nick at Nite's performance in late-night hours; and Nick at Nite and Nickelodeon are managed, staffed, programmed and sold as two business entities.
The breakout for the services would prove quite favorable for MTVN. Frank said Nickelodeon would retain its leadership position among kids 2-11 during its programming hours.
Nick at Nite would take a big step up in the rankings. Frank said that during the hours that it airs, Nick at Nite will be ranked second among adults 18-49 and first among women of those ages in total day. In primetime, it will rank fifth and eighth among women 18-49 and adults of that demo, respectively, she added.
Part of Nick at Nite’s appeal stems from the fact that Americans are staying up later. According to Frank's analysis of Nielsen data, late-night/post-midnight viewing by adults has jumped 40% over the past 10 years, and at a faster pace than any other daypart.
Nick at Nite airs Sunday-Thursday from 9 p.m.-6 a.m. and from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Nick airs during the balance on the service, save for weekdays from 6 a.m.-6:30 a.m., when Cable in the Classroom fare runs.
Frank declined to respond specifically to how other programmers might react to the forthcoming change. "This was a decision based on our business needs," she said.