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2011 Upfronts: Nickelodeon's Perry Eyes Robust Market

With continued strength in toys, a rebound in the food sector and an expansive slate of kids/parent movies in the pipeline, the kids 2011-12 upfront market appears poised for significant growth.
Given last year's solid upfront, which most observers said finished just below/just above the $1 billion plateau, plus strong scatter sales over the last four quarters, a robust Madison Avenue kids' bazaar is on the horizon, according to

Jim Perry, executive vice president, 360 Brand Sales, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group.

"All signs are pointing in that direction. Clients would rather get their money down in the upfront, than pay 30% increases [in scatter] later," he said. "I think you're looking at a double-digit increase in demand."

Whether that translates into 10% or more in out-of-pocket, which could add another $100 million to $200 million to the upfront, remains to be seen. Whatever the ultimate upfront outlay, Nickelodeon -- which controls well in excess of 50% of genre impressions through its varied offerings -- figures to be sitting pretty. "Our GRP share continues to grow," said Perry, whose company is adding 450 episodes of new and returning animation series over the next three years, including some 200 installments on Saturday mornings in 2012. Moreover, Nick is adding a pair of new live-action shows, Supah Ninjas and Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures, while updating its successful stable of iCarly, Victorious, Big Time Rush, True Jackson, House of Anubis, with new episodes. It also has an original telepic, iParty with Victorious, mashing up the casts of iCarly and Victorious and their stars Miranda Cosgrove and Victoria Justice, set to premiere on June 10.

In addition to top players Mattel and Hasbro, toys, the leading segment for kids TV, has been augmented by investments by such mid-tier players as LEGO, Spin Master and MGA.

Perry notes that entertainment/movies has become the No. 2 category for Nick. "There are going to be more kids/parent type of movies in the fourth quarter than we've ever seen," he said. "We're really in a good position because we help the studios put kids' bottoms in seats during their openings."

Food, the former second-ranked category for kids' TV, has rebounded somewhat after government scrutiny surrounding health concerns forced marketers to reformulate many of their products over the past several years. "The worst is behind us there. The food market started to come back over the past 18 months and there has been some growth," said Perry.

Nickelodeon has also benefited from co-viewing with parents and care-givers, especially among women 18 to 49. Last year, Nick picked up three new autos, General Motors (sponsoring this year's Kids Choice Awards), Volkswagen and Honda during last year's upfront, and added more of their business during scatter. Perry also expects more from the insurance sector, where Nick has written business with State Farm and Farmers over the past two years.

He also indicated that Nick may soon break the financial category: "We're talking about putting some financial literacy into the market. I think you can look for something from us there soon."
Perry said Nick has also been successful in picking up category exclusive deals with some client via customized, integrated packages.
Add it all up and Perry has a sanguine outlook: "The overall ad market has come back and our position has never been stronger."