Seeking to expand Nick.com’s role beyond a simple brand extension tool to make it a significant revenue-generating franchise element in its own right, the Nickelodeon Online team has an ambitious 2001 gameplan mapped out.
A key part of this year’s strategy, says Mike Skagerlind, Nick.com GM, will be to build in apps that foster circular audience movement between on-line and off-line media. Wary of last year’s dot.com crash, many advertisers are holding out for web ad models that guarantee the delivery of a regular targeted kids audience. To meet that need and build on results that saw it double its web ad revenues for 2000 over 1999, Nick launched a TV/on-line game initiative called BubbleCast last month. (For a detailed description of the game, see ‘How Nick got its groove back,’ page 45.)
Nick thinks the game, which charges kids with answering real-time on-line question about a Rugrats episode airing on TV, is a perfect fit for kids, who are born multitaskers. In terms of technological logistics, a 1999 MTV Leisure Time Study revealed that 24 million U.S. households have a cable TV and computer in the same room. Although initial ratings/hits results for BubbleCast were not available at press time, Nick may try out the format with other TV series if the Rugrats version is successful.
Another goal for 2001 is to offer kids a complete personalization package. ‘There are tons of community and customization tools available on the web, but they’re all for adults,’ says Nick Online executive VP Taran Swan. ‘Most web tools, in general, are very confusing, and a personalization package for kids needs to be that much more accessible and simple-plus you can’t hit them with too much all at once.’ Rolling out gradually over Q1 and Q2, MyNick.com’s first phase hits the site early this month, allowing kids to customize the site’s home page with stuff like local weather forecasts, Nick radio stations and horoscopes. Later this spring, phase two will kick in with the debut of an on-line trading card project. Kids will be able to earn points to collect character-based rich-media cards during an eight-week period. Then comes phase three, during which kids can trade their cards in a community forum on Nick.com.
The site is also currently housing a hype-generating campaign for Nick’s new CGI property Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius-at least until July, when the franchise will move to a dedicated website with multiplayer games and video clips. For now though, Nick.com is rolling out five Shockwave games based on on-air shorts running through to May or June. The first game, which hit the Net last month, features Jimmy’s robotic dog Goddard playing a souped-up version of Simon Says. When Simon says ‘sit,’ Skagerlind says Goddard goes way beyond the call of duty, maybe assuming a textbook Lotus position. Nick.com also launched a 24-hour Live Lab Web Cam last month, letting kids see what Jimmy has brewing in his secret laboratory. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius will launch as a TV series on Nick this fall, while the feature film is slated for a holiday 2001 theatrical debut.