New York -- Comcast Corp. plans to launch Noggin and
Nickelodeon Games and Sports on its expanded-basic lineup in suburban Detroit -- a deal
representing 225,000 subscribers -- officials said last Wednesday.
The rollout marks the first significant cable launch for
Noggin, which debuted in February and which now reaches just over 2 million homes.
Noggin -- a partnership of Nickelodeon and Children's
Television Workshop -- has most of its distribution so far through EchoStar Communications
Corp.'s Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite service. Noggin and GAS are part of
MTV Networks' "Suite" of digital services.
The first Comcast launch will be at its Taylor, Mich.,
system July 15, with the second in Macomb County July 29.
In a prepared statement, Kathleen Ebli, general manager of
Comcast's Taylor system, said, "Comcast is thrilled to be the only cable system
in the Detroit area to offer these terrific services."
On July 26, Noggin is debuting its first block of original
programming, The Phred on Your Head Show.That two-hour block will air twice
daily on Noggin, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Nick will offer a preview of Phred June 6 from noon
to 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, Noggin recently unveiled plans for a new
advertising effort, overseen by Ogilvy & Mather Los Angeles.
"Ogilvy really understood how to approach this from a
kids' point of view," Noggin vice president of marketing and public affairs
Cheryl Gotthelf said. "When kids look at the ads, they make them smile."
The eye-catching new print ads -- which were set to launch
in a number of consumer and trade magazines late this month -- ask kids, "Who do you
want to be?" After exploring a number of options for the child pictured, the tag line
reads, "Noggin. Use it. Everyone walks away smarter."
The ads are designed to help direct parents and their kids
to the commercial-free, educational channel. "With kids, you can't stop them
from learning," Gotthelf said. "The question becomes: What are they
The new network hopes to grow to 5 million subscribers by
the end of the year, from its current total of 2 million.
Gotthelf said Noggin should appeal to cable operators
because it helps them to serve two important audiences in their communities: homes and
schools. "It's good business to serve your community," she added.
Noggin also plans to add an Internet component to its
The network has already received online comments from young
parents thanking Noggin for bringing back the programming they grew up with, such as Electric
Company and Sesame Street, so they can watch it with their own kids.
An on-air campaign on Nickelodeon will urge young viewers
to log on to noggin.com. Nickelodeon will preview Noggin programming June 6. During
the special Noggin preview, Gotthelf said, "We'll run poems that kids sent in
The Noggin site is linked through Nickelodeon's Web
site, and it encourages kids to interact heavily.