Nickelodeon’s vast kids game show and sports-related library will comprise over 90% of the Nickelodeon Games & Sports network, slated to launch simultaneously as a digital channel, Web site and magazine in January. Plans to produce original game show, nonfiction and dramatic series for the channel will be underway within two years, says Nickelodeon Games & Sports GM Mark Offitzer. No programming acquisitions will be made for at least a year, but when the channel does start buying, its fee structure is likely to be moderate, owing to the fact that game shows-the network’s bread and butter-are a lot cheaper to produce.
The sports web’s flagship shows include Nick standards Nickelodeon’s Sports Theatre with Shaquille O’Neal, Global Guts and Double Dare, plus the new game show hit Figure it Out. Non-library programming will consist of two-minute interstitials that feature youth and adult hosts pursuing sports stories from a kid’s perspective. Offitzer hopes to draw upon affiliations with major league sports franchises for many of the shorts. However, after kid polls revealed a negative reaction to too much straight sports coverage, Offitzer says Nick will steer away from becoming a kids version of ESPN.
Nickelodeon Games & Sports will be part of MTV Network’s ten-pack of digital channels called The Suite, which also includes Noggin and Nick Too. All ten channels will be transmitted on a single MTV transponder, and will have direct links to dedicated Web sites. Noggin, which will feature programming from Nick and CTW, will also be available as a stand-alone service. Similar plans have not been finalized for Nick Games & Sports, according to Offitzer.