Upfronts 2012: Nick, Disney Channel Party On


New York — Vowing not to let recent ratings woes
stop its programming creativity, Nickelodeon announced
the development of more than 650 new episodes
of original series as part of its upfront presentation
here last Wednesday (March 14).

Stating that the network is “in fantastic shape,” Cyma
Zarghami, president of Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon
Group, told advertising executives gathered at Jazz at
Lincoln Center that the network has been the top-rated
cable network for 17 straight years (on a 24-hour basis)
and the network is “not planning to give that up.”

“Brands with real equity survive and thrive in times of
change,” she said. “Our brand has a strong history and
a lot to be proud of.”

She also said the network’s recent ratings slip, which
has been on the decline since mid-September and has
allowed competitor Disney to overtake the network in
the key kids 6-11 demo and challenge Nick for supremacy
among kids 2-11, will not affect the network’s aggressive
original programming push.

The upfront featured performances by Cymphonique
Miller and Gravity 5 (How to Rock), boy band Big Time
Rush and former The X Factor competitor Rachel Crow.

Disney Channel also touted a new programming lineup
and recent ratings success in front of an enthusiastic
crowd of kids and advertising executives during an
entertaining upfront event in New York last Tuesday
(March 13).

Flanked by musical performances from Tyler James
Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) and Coco Jones of Disney’s
upcoming musical Let It Shine — as well as from
A.N.T. Farm star China Anne McClain and her two sisters
— Disney Channels Worldwide president and chief
creative officer Gary Marsh said the network is clicking
on all cylinders as it looks to secure its position as the top
kids-targeted cable network.

Through the week ending March 11, Disney Channel
had won 39 consecutive weeks against its rival Nickelodeon
among kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14 and had its fifth
win over Nick in the past six weeks among kids 2-11, according
to Nielsen.

“With the success that we had, I’m pushing our team further
and further to take on bigger [programming] risks,”
Marsh told the gathering of ad executives, many of whom
brought their kids to the upfront event at the Hard Rock
Cafe to meet such stars as Debby Ryan (Disney Channel’s
Jessie) Laura Marano (Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally),
Tyrel Jackson Williams (Disney XD’s Lab Rats), Bridgit
Mendler (Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie) and Adam
Hicks and Doc Shaw (Disney XD’s Pair of Kings).