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Got it need it–Profiles in programming strategy

N ickelodeon Latin America (and Portuguese-language sister-net Nick Brazil) will mark its 10th anniversary this coming December and return to its roots by appealing to an audience that represents the original remit of preschool and core kid programming. The cablenet, with a reach of more than 16 million households through three South American feeds, will treat viewers to seven new acquisitions and the net's first locally developed series over the next eight months. The hope is to score big with the younger age group that has eluded the net for quite some time.
April 1, 2006

N ickelodeon Latin America (and Portuguese-language sister-net Nick Brazil) will mark its 10th anniversary this coming December and return to its roots by appealing to an audience that represents the original remit of preschool and core kid programming. The cablenet, with a reach of more than 16 million households through three South American feeds, will treat viewers to seven new acquisitions and the net’s first locally developed series over the next eight months. The hope is to score big with the younger age group that has eluded the net for quite some time.

According to VP of programming and creative strategy, Tatiana Rodriguez, the South American kidcaster has been mistaken for a teen channel in the last three years. Nick Latin America was pulling in solid nine to 12 year old numbers despite stocking the sked with programming aimed to an audience as young as four years old.

To help age down viewers, Rodriguez will rely on balancing out the sked with programming that appeals to both boys and girls. In the earlier part of the decade, Nick Latin America was primarily a girl’s channel. Live action was the hot button, with shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sister Sister reeling in throngs of young female fans who accounted for 72% of the viewership.

To tip the scales, the net called in boys-action heavy hitter Yu-Gi-Oh! (the net’s first and only Japanese animation series) in April 2002. ‘We needed to go for a big boys show to get their attention, and then use it to advertise the rest of the content,’ Rodriguez says. The move peaked male interest and the net followed up with other boy-targeted shows such as Nick’s Rocket Power and Avatar: The Last Airbender to keep them coming back; boys now make up 52% of the audience.

In order to hold on to this delicate balance, Rodriguez is relying on gender neutral comedy. She’s confident that new humor-laden acquisitions set to air later this year, including Kappa Mikey (Animation Collective) and the girl-protagonist driven Lola & Virginia (Icon Animation), will continue to draw seven to 11 year old boys and girls equally and keep them laughing well into the new year.

Meanwhile, the net will take its first step into the local production market. Bolstered by its 2004 acquisition 31 Minutos – a live-action puppet show produced by Chile’s Aplaplac that’s claimed the number-three spot in Mexico and Brazil over the past six months – Rodriguez decided to give co-productions a whirl. The first outing is live-action, 14-ep sitcom Skimo (Nick Latin America/Macias Group division Art Sound Miami). It features two teen boys who build and run their own soda shop where kids can hang out at after school. ‘It’s our experiment with local live action,’ says Rodriguez, adding that this project may kick-start the production of more live-action and animated fare in the region. At press time details weren’t available, but she says a deal to create an original long-format toon in Argentina is in the works.

But that doesn’t mean Rodriguez has stopped looking for outside acquisitions. For MIPTV, she’ll be on the hunt for a funny toon targeting six to seven year old boys and girls for a Q4 2006 launch, as well as series for her now extended Nick Jr. block.

Although Dora the Explorer has stood out as the channel’s number one show overall in Nick’s Argentina feed over the past two years, the preschool block itself wasn’t performing. Tapping into Dora’s success, Rodriguez added spin-off series, Go Diego Go!, and beefed up Nick Jr. last October to three hours from one and a half. Doing this lured between 36% and 46% of viewers ages zero to five to the channel within one month, Rodriguez says. To keep the momentum going, two new Nick Jr. U.S. acquisitions are on the way. Dougie in Disguise from Barcelona, Spain’s Neptuno Films goes on air this month, and the Nickelodeon’s mini operetta Wonder Pets from New York’s Little Airplane Productions gets a berth as well later this year. DW

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