After narrowing the gap considerably over the past year, Disney Channel could finally edge Nickelodeon in total-day ratings among kids 2 to 11 in February, putting an end to a 16-year run by the Viacom-owned service. Going into the final days of the Nielsen month, Disney was nipping at the kids kingpin's heel with that group.
While Nickelodeon has ceded leadership to Disney Channel among kids 6 to 11 and tweens 9 to 14 - the latter has topped the total-day chart with those groups for the past nine and 21 months, respectively -- the Viacom-owned channel has never surrendered its total-day perch atop the broad kids demo, as well as with total viewers, over the past 16 years. That could change when the final Nielsen numbers are tallied for February.
Both networks declined to comment.
Entering the final four days of February -- the month ends from the measurement company's perspective on Sunday Feb. 26 -- Nickelodeon held a 1% edge with 929,000 kids 2-to-11 watchers, compared with 922,000 for Disney Channel, according to Nielsen data from Jan. 30 through Feb. 22. It also maintained a 4% advantage with a 2.3 rating versus a 2.2 for Disney over that span with the 24-hour measure.
That continues a total-day trend. Where Disney trailed Nick by 25% among kids 2 to 11 (930,000 to 1.24 million) and 27% in ratings (2.2 versus a 3.0) with the group last February, it has been gaining ground on Nick, even if both have been shedding kids' viewers. To that end, Nick parent Viacom has questioned Nielsens numbers and the apparent loss of children from the sample set. Disney trailed Nick by 6% in the demo in November and by 4% in December.
Last month, the networks both averaged a 2.2 demo rating, with Nick averaging 912,000 kids 2 to 11, 1% more than Disney's 904,000.
Disney also appears to have even more momentum. Boosted by the Feb. 17 premiere of original telefilm Radio Rebel, Disney, which generally outperforms its competitor over weekends, was first in the demo the week of Feb. 13-19, topping this chart for the fifth time in the last seven weeks, according to network officials.
Heading into the weekend, the race could turn on the number kids 2 to 11 watching such entries as Fred: The Series, How To Rock and House of Anubis on Nick, while Disney's lineup includes Austin & Ally, A.N.T. and Jessie.
The Nielsen data is scheduled to be released Feb 28.
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