The top-five things on our radar this month

From the dispute between Nickelodeon and Nielsen over ratings to the emergence of cloud-based gaming and the possible European recession, we're keeping our eye on all the hot topics that impact the kids entertainment business.
January 1, 2012

1. The ratings rumble
It could be a case of they said/we said. After years of boasting top Nielsen ratings, Nickelodeon US did a double-take upon finding its scores down between 15% and 20%, according to the industry-standard metrics measurer. Nick parentco Viacom called for an exhaustive assessment of the national TV ratings and countered that the double-digit drop experienced in the fall was a glitch, an error on Nielsen’s part, if you will. Nielsen, meanwhile, looked into the matter and admitted to The Wall Street Journal that it had erred—but only in its report of growth in the number of kids watching TV. It turns out, the size of the kids two to 11 audience actually shrunk by 2.9% when compared to fall 2010 figures. The TV ratings firm, however, stuck by its other measurements, which not only included Nick’s dip, but also marked ratings increases for rival Disney Channel and a slight decline for Cartoon Network. It appears Nick and Nielsen have reached an impasse, but we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard of it.

2. The Cloud on gaming horizon
Mobile is taking a bite out of videogame sales, but cloud-based gaming may soon rain on console manufacturers’ parades, too. Californian companies such as OnLive, Gaikai and Approxy are working on skipping right past the Wii and Xbox to stream high-end videogames instantly to smartphones, tablets and PCs. Transmission times are improving and game developers are taking notice, offering titles via the Cloud day-and-date with their retail releases.

3. More Annoying in 2012
The Annoying Orange keeps on rolling. Since its debut in 2009, the web series from The Collective has attracted more than 850 million views on its dedicated YouTube channel. With deals lined up for Annoying Orange apparel, toys, talking plush figures, an iPhone app and a half-hour series on Cartoon Network, it appears there’s plenty of juice left in this brand.

4. Apps  get rated
The Wild West of mobile apps might get a bit tamer with a new voluntary ratings system in place. The 700,000-plus iOS and Android apps currently available in the US can be classified, thanks to a new partnership between the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and wireless association CTIA. Six categories ranging from EC (Early Childhood) to AO (Adults Only) are on the books.

5. Euro crisis
The battered Euro didn’t rebound in 2011 as much as some analysts had expected. At press time, the currency was trading just slightly above the US$1.2907 that marked its all-time low last January. The devalued Euro, coupled with the continent’s consistent overall drop in industrial production, has many fearing a deep recession in Europe is at hand. Well, 2012 awaits.

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