Nickelodeon Ups Originals To Reverse Ratings Slide


Nickelodeon, trying to recover from a 20% dip in ratings that knocked its earnings, plans to air 70% more new original programming during the fourth quarter.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, speaking at the 21st Annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, said an increase in program development and production was part of the company’s effort to get the kids’ channel back on track and turn domestic ad sales growth positive.

“Nickelodeon has been hard at work for a good part of the year in rethinking what it’s doing, developing programming, new programming in different genres, and now it’s coming to fruition,” Dauman said.

He said an “avalanche” of new programming would begin last Saturday (Sept. 22), with new seasons of shows including Victorious, Big Time Rush and How to Rock. After that, the company is excited about its new version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Dauman said Nick has made changes in its programming organization to support the additional development and production. In August, Nick animation chief Brown Johnson left the network, and live-action programming chief Margie Cohn was reassigned in a shakeup that put chief creative officer Russell Hicks in charge of West Coast operations.

Dauman also said Nick has made organizational changes to facilitate better coordination among its networks.

But he cautioned that Nick still has a way to go before ad revenues return to normal. “We have to climb back out, and getting progress as we finish up the calendar year in this quarter — that will help inherently. It won’t totally solve the issue but it will then create momentum as we head to the rest of the year and into the next upfront.”

As for Viacom’s other networks, Dauman said he was “reasonably optimistic” about the ad sales environment.

He said VH1 would be expanding its original programming to additional nights, and Comedy Central was creating programming that would air on platforms other than traditional television.

Jon Lafayette is business editor of Broadcasting & Cable.