While YTV’s partnership with fellow kidcaster Nickelodeon dates back to 1992 with YTV’s acquisition of Rugrats, the two nets have developed along similar paths. Both are kid-centric brands with a strong focus on quirky comedy, both appeal equally to boys and girls, and both are co-production powerhouses on their home turf. But, says Scott Dyer, EVP and GM of Corus Kids, YTV is definitely not Nickelodeon. ‘We broadcast Nick shows, but we’re a broad service. We have hosts. We air movies.’
Today, the two broadcasters enjoy a tight programming relationship and are venturing into the Canadian kids digital realm hand-in-hand. But it wasn’t always so rosy.
‘When I first arrived at Corus, we were on hiatus with Nick,’ says Paul Robertson, president of Corus Television. ‘Nick was hoping that the regulatory climate would open up and allow it to launch Nickelodeon in Canada.’ In his first month, Robertson headed to New York to meet with Nick execs and rekindle the relationship. He went in peace, bearing the message: ‘We want to be your active partner in the Canadian market, and if the regulatory situation changes, heck, we’ll launch Nickelodeon Canada with you.’
When Corus bought production studio Nelvana in 2000, it automatically enhanced the relationship, since Nelvana was such a large supplier of programming to Nickelodeon. And the bond has only grown from there. In January 2008, Corus and MTV Networks International announced an extension of their multiyear broadcast partnership into the digital realm. ‘In the original deal, we only obtained broadcast rights to the shows, and that created a hole when it came to extending those properties beyond television,’ says Dyer. ‘So we renegotiated for digital rights.’
Now, under one multiplatform agreement, Corus holds Canadian rights across all media – including broadband, VOD, SVOD, mobile and gaming – to Nick content airing on YTV and Treehouse. The deal also makes Corus Nick’s ad rep for its websites in Canada. ‘We can now make the Nick shows kids love available, branded by YTV, on all of the mobile devices kids use today,’ says Dyer. ‘Streaming rights help enhance our television audience, which helps drive ratings and contributes to Canadian independent production.’
And in a new co-branding initiative that was yet-to-be-announced at press time, YTV will launch a branded block this fall-Nick Sundays on YTV. The block is set to include classic Nick fare including SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents, but will also air new series like The Mighty B!