Based on rocking ratings for last year’s S Club 7 pick-up, Nickelodeon Latin America has been focusing on adding more music-centric programming to its sked for the four to 14 crowd. ‘We don’t want to position Nick LA as a music channel-it’s not,’ says Tatiana Rodriguez, senior director of programming and acquisitions for the channel. However, the success of S Club 7 could not be ignored.
S Club 7 in Miami launched in June 2000, followed in October 2000 by S Club 7 in Los Angeles. In Argentina, the S Club series’ ratings increased 10% from 2000 to 2001 among the 12 to 17 demo (comparing June to December 2000 and January to May 2001). Nick LA held several music research focus groups in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Spanish-speaking U.S. markets to study kids’ music-buying and listening habits. The results, combined with independent letters and e-mails to the network, convinced Rodriguez to expand the net’s music strategy.
To fulfill kids’ music needs, Rodriguez has spent the past year padding Nick LA’s lineup with more tune-centric shows. One addition that’s already achieved hit status is an interstitial package called Musick Nick, which launched in January 2001 and features song lyrics for videos running across an orange banner at the bottom of the screen.
The Nick LA office has been flooded with requests for more of the lyricized videos. ‘We saw a marked increase of both e-mail and snail mail in which kids requested specific songs,’ says Rodriguez. ‘That’s when we decided to launch the third step of the music strategy in March 2001 with DJ Nick.’
Each week, the channel screens 30-second cut-down versions of three music videos every half hour during the day, driving kids to vote on-line for their favorite video. The channel receives an average 10,000 votes per week, and the winning video airs in its entirety on Friday night, then in rotation five or six times per day.
The channel is also injecting its behind-the-scenes interstitial series Nicksclusivo and Nick Confidential with a music-oriented focus. In Nick Confidential, kids can pose on-line questions to popular Latin American pop stars-queries like ‘Why do you change the color of your hair so much?’ or ‘Do you ever have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a concert?’
Nicksclusivo goes behind-the-scenes with Latin American music stars like Ricky Martin, Thalia, Sandy & Junior (Brazil), Linda (Columbia) and Juanez (Mexico), as well as U.S. acts like Aaron Carter and the Backstreet Boys.
Adding still more music to the mix, Rodriguez debuted TV-Loonland/Sony Wonder animated series Generation O! as a weekday strip in March 2001 and added Making the Band after S Club 7 on Friday nights. Ranking in the top five weekday shows for Nick in May 2001, Generation O! continues to perform well in Mexico and Brazil, and the series took the top spot in Chile.
Despite the fact that a good portion of Nick LA’s music fare is airing on Friday evenings, Rodriguez says it’s not organized into a block format. ‘We don’t always program the shows back-to-back. The most important part of the music strategy is that we give kids a cool way to watch music between our regular programming.’
Off-air promotions are helping to drive home the tune focus. Nick LA tied in with music stores such as Mix-Up in Mexico, Tower Records in Argentina and La Ferea Del Disco in Chile to offer a sweepstakes for a trip to London to spend a day with the S Club gang. The contest was held in September 2000 and drew 87,000 entries from all over Spanish-speaking Latin America. Cameras followed the winner-a little girl from Chile-across the pond to London; her visit with the band aired as part of a Nicksclusivo spot in June.
The channel localizes its music programming by featuring popular Latin American video clips and producing its own Kids Choice Awards. At a Brazilian version of the awards event last November, 13 local winners in categories including best band and best singer were showcased. In May 2001, the channel hosted a Kids Choice show for Latin America in general.
An English- and Spanish-language cable network, Nick Latin America broadcasts on cable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to 12 million homes. The channel’s sked is split between 70% animation and 30% live-action fare, and a full 75% of the lineup is produced by the Nickelodeon organization.
Now that the music slate is up to snuff, Rodriguez is looking for boy-oriented live-action shows and ‘fun, cool, wacky shorts and interstitials.’ Rodriguez seeks first-run, exclusive Latin American cable rights, and license fees are based on how many languages she can get from the distributor.