Nick Sells Sister Co. on Cables Power


Paramount Parks not only believes in the power of the Nickelodeon cable brand, but it also believes in the power of local cable as an ad medium.

So said MTV Networks vice president of affiliate ad sales Jason Malamud last week.

First he pointed to the Viacom Inc. theme-parks division having spent $20 million this year to enhance Nickelodeon installations in three of its parks-Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.; Kings Dominion in Richmond, Va.; and Kings Island in Cincinnati-and to build a fourth one at its Carowinds park in Charlotte, N.C.

Those efforts, he said, "demonstrated respect for the power of the Nickelodeon brand to attract viewers to its parks."

Then, Malamud said, Paramount Parks substantially increased its local cable ad budget-"by nearly five times, to several million dollars"-to promote its theme parks. That "boon for local cable" shows that the Nickelodeon sister company believes in the power of cable as an ad medium, he added.

Paramount Parks' ad buys include time on virtually all of the major MSOs and interconnects in those markets, Malamud said. Those MSOs range from AT & T Broadband and its newly acquired MediaOne Group Inc. to Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc.

Paramount Parks vice president of advertising Rob Collins confirmed Malamud's comments and added that the parks' local cable budget is nearly $3 million. A onetime official in Nickelodeon's recreation group, Collins praised the "great synergy" between the two Viacom operations and described himself as "a huge fan of cable."

"Nickelodeon Splat City" is the three-acre Nick site at Paramount's Great America, while the installation at Kings Dominion is called "Nickelodeon Central." The one at Carowinds, which opened in April, is "Nickelodeon Flying Saucer Saturator."

Interestingly, the Nick attraction at Kings Dominion is adjacent to that park's landmark Eiffel Tower replica.

That brings to mind yet another example of synergy within Viacom. Rugrats in Paris: The Movie-the second theatrical movie inspired by Nick's Rugrats series-will be released this fall by sister company Paramount Pictures, Malamud said.

Nickelodeon announced in toy-trade-magazine ads during the Toy Fair that the animated feature would hit theaters just before Thanksgiving.

Yet another cable network, Animal Planet, caught theme-park fever last week as it and Universal Studios announced a long-term strategic partnership.

The centerpiece will be the creation of "Animal Planet Live," an attraction scheduled to open simultaneously in the spring of 2001 at both Universal parks-in Hollywood and Orlando, Fla.-according to Universal Studios senior vice president of corporate marketing and partnerships Stephanie Sperber.

Animal Planet executive vice president and general manager Clark Bunting said its theme-park site will incorporate animal demonstrations, live sketches and visits from the stars of such series as Crocodile Hunter, Emergency Vets and Call of the Wild.