Do you know what a cardinal number is? Can you name the outermost planet in our solar system? Do you know how many months in the calendar year have exactly 31 days? Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?
MGM Television hopes to answer all of those questions with Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?, a reimagining of the family game show that first premiered in 2007 on Fox. Hosted by WWE star John Cena, the series is set to premiere on Nickelodeon on June 10 and will see a group of kids helping adults put their elementary school knowledge to the test. The series is intended for co-viewing, with an expected core audience of kids ages eight to 12.
The show’s rotating cast of fifth-graders includes students from Florida, New York, California, Illinois, Texas and Georgia. The new format features additional cheats, and new ways for contestants to enlist the students’ help as they attempt to win the US$100,000 prize. Cena serves as an executive producer on the show, after recently inking a deal with Nickelodeon to partner on several projects. In addition to previously hosting the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, Cena also voices a villain on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“[The show is] much more kid-centric,” says Robert Marick, EVP of global consumer products and experiences for MGM, about the show. “John Cena will interact with the students much more in the new format, and he’ll also be engaging with the kids in the audience.”
Mark Burnett, MGM’s chairman of worldwide television, and Barry Poznick, MGM’s president of unscripted television, are also executive producing. Since it’s a familiar brand, Marick says MGM anticipates a shorter timeline when it comes to putting together its consumer products program. Retailers and licensees will be comforted by the fact that it’s a well-known entity, he says, as well as by Cena’s star power and Nickelodeon’s reach. Hasbro and Techno Source previously released games based on the early-aughts version of the show.
“In its last iteration, merchandise sales for Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? were over US$175 million,” Marick says. “There were more than 30 SKUs across 12 licensees, and we took learnings from that program to focus our program this time.”
Toys and games are once again expected to be released in key categories, along with publishing. As the property expands, Marick expects apparel, stationery and back-to-school will also be strong options. Long-term, he believes experiential and location-based brand extensions are a huge opportunity for the show.
“Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? is a property that consumers already interact with when they watch at home, so it’s easy to imagine yourself in the audience and being selected to answer questions,” he says. “There’s potential for a really great experience, but it’s something we’ll look at in phase two as we continue to roll out plans.”
Marick says MGM will also work to take advantage of the show’s interactive nature through social media and second-screen initiatives, though he did not provide any details.
“Those are conversations we’re having with Nickelodeon. Kids have smartphones, they watch content very differently and we need to make sure we connect with the audience on that level.”
This is the first time MGM has partnered with Nickelodeon and one of the few the kids properties the studio has tackled (Tom and Jerry, The Pink Panther). But MGM has been trying its hand in the kids space in a few ways recently, also launching a new kids CP division under the watchful eye of Marick earlier this year. Since then he has said his priority for the division is live and location-based extensions.
Nickelodeon first announced Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader in February, as the kidsnet focused on reboots, spinoff and revivals in its new slate. In addition to the family game show, Nick rolled out several SpongeBob SquarePants spinoffs spanning many formats as well as a reboot of the sketch-comedy series All That.