The challenge With the mid-2010 departure of kids broadcasting industry vet Deirdre Brennan, Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand went on the hunt for a new programming director who could amp up the net’s competitive edge in Australia’s digitally savvy marketplace.
The plan Hugh Baldwin assumed the newly created role of director of television and digital content for Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand in early February, moving over from his previous post as digital media director and effectively merging the two departments. Now, as well as managing programming and digital efforts, Baldwin is also directly involved with MTVNI initiatives involving its international digital and programming groups.
“When Deirdre Brennan left, we talked about the opportunity to look at doing things slightly differently,” says Baldwin. “That was about bringing all the platforms together in terms of content output, where TV is still the centerpiece of the table.” He explains that his mission will be to shift how the two departments work internally and then eventually let the audience drive the content.
The programming Global acquisitions for Nick Australia and New Zealand are largely driven by the international programming group, and Baldwin says he’ll naturally be on the lookout for content that complements the channel’s library of top performers, which include SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, Victorious, Big Time Rush, Dora the Explorer, Go,Diego,Go! and Wonder Pets! He’s particularly open to innovative formats that have the potential to travel internationally and lend themselves to multiple platforms, a recent example being House of Anubis. Baldwin says the global co-pro does a good job of “fulfilling fan needs and using the mystery to drive that audience online and back on-air again.”
Though Nickelodeon looks for shows that suit the brand internationally, the channel also commits 10% of its air-time to local original content. Baldwin says a favorite among Aussie and Kiwi kids is Camp Orange—the six-year-old homegrown competition show sees 14 best friends face challenges in an outdoor environment and engages viewers on-air, online and at live events.
Digital initiatives “It used to be about getting your audience to line up outside of the front door and come through, but now there are many doors and many points of entry,” says Baldwin. He brings a breadth of experience in digital content from past projects, which include Nick Australia’s kid-friendly social media environment Clickhead Space, where kids’ avatars appear on-air, and an interactive Penguins of Madagascar game that drove viewers back to new eps. Right now, Baldwin’s Australian team is developing a sticker-based Dora and Diego app for iPad and iPod Touch called Sticker Safari that will roll out internationally. “It’s one of the ways we’re understanding where kids connect with the story,” he says. Nick Australia will also be collaborating on pre-existing apps, such as the SpongeBob app developed by Nick UK, to localize them for the Australian and New Zealand markets.