Making its entrée into original first-run programming on
Saturday mornings, Nickelodeon will premiere an animated series, SpongeBob SquarePants,
in July, officials said last week.
The new show, about a sea sponge and its undersea friends,
will debut July 17 at 10 a.m. Nick has been reairing shows that ran during its weekday
schedule on Saturday mornings, while offering original first-run fare on Sunday mornings.
Nick just beat all of its competition for kids on Saturday
mornings for the second season in a row, and general manager Cyma Zarghami said the
network wants to take advantage of its strength in that daypart.
"We've been saying all along that kids have made
Nickelodeon No. 1 on Saturday mornings," Zarghami said, "so why not premiere a
show there and see what happens? We're trying to create a destination for kids on weekends
We have a deeper library now."
Nick offered a sneak peek at SpongeBob SquarePants May
1, following Nickelodeon's 12th Annual Kids' Choice Awards. The special
preview scored a 6.3 rating, or 6.9 million total viewers, including 3.6 million kids aged
two through 11.
For the just-ended TV season, Nick averaged a 4.2 national
rating for children two through 11, ranking No. 1 and leading its closest competitor, ABC,
by 31 percent.
In mid-August, Nick will premiere a new original animated
show, Rocket Power, in its primetime "Nickel-O-Zone" block, which airs
from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. That new series, from Nick and Klasky Csupo Inc., will air Mondays