On your mark, get set, go!
Nickelodeon on Thursday kicked off the network upfront, and digital NewFront, selling season in a presentation to advertisers, the media community and the press at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Now through May 18, dozens of outlets – broadcast, cable and digital – hope the target audience (and prospective advertisers, in particular) are seeing their spin through rose-colored glasses as they hawk their platforms’ attributes.
For a kids-themed platform like Nickelodeon, the inherent challenge is keeping the young audience intact at a time when traditional television is at risk of being overshadowed by alternative platforms (such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, who have beefed up their kids’ programming options considerably, and mobile devices). Currently we are not privy to any viewership results on these outlets on a consistent basis, and that makes the decision for any advertiser more complex.
So, while Nickelodeon was crowing about its still dominant status amongst the broadcasters—Nick recently marked its third straight year at number one with kids, beating the competition in 2016 by double-digit percentages—the emphasis also was on focusing outside of traditional on-air programming.
“Today’s kids are coming of age in a revolutionary period of change, in tech, entertainment, politics, and these factors have definitely influenced how they see the world,” said, Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon. “It’s our job to understand everything we can about kids, and connect our audience to relevant content and characters that speak to their need for authenticity and diversity—both on our screens and beyond through on-the-ground experiences.”
One of those experiences is a multi-day music festival aimed for kids and families called Nickelodeon SlimeFest in 2018, which, according to Zarghami will “combine the best of the Nickelodeon brand with all the things we know kids will love – pop music, family time and incredibly cool interactive experiences that they can’t get anywhere else ... Part music festival and part giant party for the entire family, SlimeFest will bring Nickelodeon to life in a complexly different way,” she said.
Using its own research, referred to as The Story of Me, another primary goal at Nickelodeon is to develop content that is hyper-relevant to kids.
“Kids say that they want friends who look different from them, friends who have different religions and backgrounds,” said Zarhami, who promises in the vicinity of 700 hours of new and returning programs across its platforms in preschool, animation and live action; and TV movies.
Among the initiatives to reflect that philosophy are new animated series The Adventures of Kid Danger and Captain Man (working title), spun-off from Nick’s current top-rated series, Henry Danger; a talent deal with 13-year old singer, dancer and performer JoJo Siwa; and a 2D animated series revival of former flagship property Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles called Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“Animating Dan Schneider’s incredible Henry Danger, while keeping the voices of the current series, signals to the audience that we are working hard to service them on all platforms,” noted Zarhami. The Adventures of Kid Danger and Captain Man debuted as a Nickelodeon short-form digital series, which has been viewed more than 30 million times worldwide across all platforms.
“JoJo’s an entrepreneur, her family is everything to her and she is happy just being a kid,” noted Shelly Sumpter Gillyard, executive vice president, talent, music and events, Nickelodeon. “We have watched JoJo’s career as a real breakout talent and knew when we met with her that our audience would welcome her as part of the Nickelodeon family.”
Nickelodeon has also greenlit 10 episodes of Lip Sync Battle Shorties, a spin-off of the current series Lip Sync Battles on Spike TV.
It has ordered more original episodes of animated Kuu Kuu Harajuku from singer and current The Voice coach Gwen Stefani. And Nickelodeon will partner with Paramount Pictures on a slate of theatrical films, with the first – Amusement Park in July 2018 – spinning off into a TV series the following year.
On the preschool front will be new animated series Butterbean’s Café, Sunny Day and Top Wing; and new episodes of existing PAW Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Shimmer and Shine, Mutt & Stuff and the recently launched Nella the Princess Knight.