Kids Upfront Market Opens With Focus on Nickelodeon
Ratings drop may lead to some spending shifts
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/22/2012 11:22:54 AM
Nickelodeon, however, remains dominant, and has been able to retain its pricing power despite the viewership issues suffered by SpongeBob SquarePants and other aging franchises on the network.
With broadcast virtually wrapped up and most major cable networks more than halfway done making upfront deals, the kids market sprang to life this week.
Media buyers said the ratings plunge at Nickelodeon, long the market leader, could lead to a share shift if Nickelodeon pressed for price increases. But despite ratings gains by the non-commercial Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, advertisers still need to do a significant amount of business with Nick, limiting possible reductions in spending.
Cartoon Network was doing business and getting mid-to-high single-digit increases in high-demand pre-holiday time periods, according to market sources.
Overall, the market is expected to be flat with categories like electronic games growing, but the movie business dropping from last year.
The big drop in Nickelodeon's ratings happened during last year's fourth quarter. Because that's the key holiday season in the kids business, Nick had to provide its advertisers with a blizzard of make-goods during the quarter.
Buyers said that Nickelodeon was able to buy some goodwill by the way it made its advertisers whole when ratings dropped. "The handled it appropriately and professionally," on buyer said.
Philippe Dauman, CEO of parent company Viacom, described the drop as "inexplicable." Some analysts blame kids programming being available on Netflix for some of the decline.
The ratings shortfall led to a drop in ad revenues and disappointing earnings for Viacom in the fourth quarter.
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