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Nick Jr. Says: Do the Math

3/19/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Disney Jr. is about to launch on Friday in
some 30 million homes (see cover story), but Teri Weiss
is confident Nick Jr. will remain the dominant player in cable
programming’s preschool space.

The senior vice president of Nickelodeon Preschool sai
Nick Jr., which runs commercial-free with limited PBS-style
messages, will maintain its lesson plan of providing educational
programming to
the 2-5 set and fulfilling
its mission to help 4- and
5-year-olds prepare for
kindergarten.

“The landscape is always
changing and more
competitive than ever before,”
Weiss said. “We’re
going to continue curriculum
integration into our
shows that have become
destinations to empower
kids to better understand the world around [them] and recognize
the things they know.”

Weiss said Nick Jr., which began trumpeting its new tagline,
“The Smart Place to Play,” on March 1, has experienced
minimal Nielsen effect from Sprout and more recently The
Hub with its audience and their caregivers.

“No one offers the amount or quality of educational experiences
that Nick Jr. offers,” she said. “The network has posted year
over year gains for the last two years and has seen no significant
negative ratings impact due to new players in the space.”

Nick Jr. traces its roots from a block that continues on Nick
and to Noggin, which became a 24-hour preschool channel
on Dec. 31, 2007. The channel’s name switched to Nick Jr. on
Sept. 28, 2009.

Nick Jr., with 74 million subscribers, scored a 4% increase
to average a 2.9 kids 2-5 rating and 315,000 of those
viewers in 2011. Year-to-date, Nick Jr. also has improved
its count by 4% to a 3.1 rating and 331,000 of those viewers.

Gains are being driven in part by long-running favorite
Dora the Explorer, as well as math-themed Team Umizoomi
and Bubble Guppies. Newcomer Mike the Knight, which not
only tells wondrous tales about dragons but imparts wisdom
about being a good brother and member of the community, is
also performing well with viewers, Weiss said.

Nick Jr. has plenty in its development pipeline, which will
yield a series based on the Peter Rabbit stories come fall and
Tickety Tock. Weiss said the network is excited about an upcoming
literacy show
and is working on another
tied to STEM
curriculum.

Weiss also addressed
Nick Jr.’s recent
on-air removal of
Moose A. Moose and
Zee, the longtime animated
characters that
hosted the network’s
educational interstitials.
The move has
prompted more than 10,000 people to sign an online petition
seeking their restoration — and hundreds of unhappy comments
on Nick Jr.’s Facebook page.

“We certainly understand that many children and their
parents enjoy Moose and Zee. But we did a lot of research
about Nick Jr. in general and specific shows and we found
that viewers wanted to see more of their favorite characters
in those segments,” Weiss said. As such Dora, Diego,
the Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi characters are
now also serving in those roles. (Weiss’s comments came
after the Multichannel News deadline for the cover story.)

In the fourth quarter Nick Jr., whose 53.3% co-viewing
ratio is the highest of all kids networks, will debut a
nighttime NickMom block, with a mix of original longand
short-form humor-based programming, including
talk-show, stand-up, sketch-comedy and hidden-camera
format fare. Research indicates that about 25% of today’s
mothers grew up watching Nickelodeon, Weiss said.

 

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April