Nickelodeon and Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) have joined forces to launch Noggin, a new children’s educational channel that they hope will inspire kids age two to 14 to think that learning is cool.
And this isn’t a three-hour per week FCC mandate filler. Noggin will be a 24-hour, commercial-free digital channel scheduled to launch in January 1999.
Noggin is the flagship channel for three new Nickelodeon digital program services, which also include Nickelodeon Games and Sports, a channel devoted to the games that kids love to play and watch, and Nickelodeon Too, a time-shifted second feed of Nickelodeon available previously only to satellite operators.
On a cable dial that has room for food, game-show, movies, religious, sports, nature and how-to channels, an educational kids channel represents one of the last niches that has yet to be filled, says Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell. ‘In this day and age when it’s hard to get distribution, the best thing you can do is come up with the most compelling idea you possibly can,’ says Scannell. ‘We thought that having two powerhouses in children’s television coming behind one idea was as good an idea that we could arrive at.’
CTW had been mulling over the concept of a children’s educational cable channel for several years before it was approached by Nickelodeon in 1997 as to the feasibility of working together on a new service. ‘There has been a powerful demand for more places for kids that are educational and safe,’ says David Britt, president and CEO of CTW. ‘It was clear to us that it would be difficult to do this on broadcast television, except on public broadcasting.’
Programming will consist of shows culled from the libraries of both companies, including Sesame Street, The Electric Company and Ghostwriter from CTW, and Blue’s Clues and Gullah Gullah Island from Nickelodeon. First-run episodes of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues will continue to air on PBS and Nickelodeon, respectively.
Although Noggin is not expected to have new original programming at launch, plans are in the works to take elements from old episodes of shows and use them in new formats. Additionally, the concept of programming during prime time to target families and adults with classic kids educational shows, ˆ la Nick at Nite, has been discussed, but no final decisions will be made until the Noggin management team is in place.
Noggin and Nick Games and Sports will have an immediate Web presence because the interactivity that’s possible on a Web site directly connects to the educational and play angles that these new channels represent, says Britt.