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Disney, Nick Going Old School

Kids-targeted networks Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are turning back the clock, offering blocks of classic TV programming in the hopes that young parents will tune in and watch along with their kids on multiple platforms.

Disney’s Wednesday late-night “Disney Replay” block and Nickelodeon’s daily late-night “Splat” block on TeenNick both offer popular original series from the 1990s to early 2000s. Those shows resonate with 18-to-34-year-olds who grew up watching shows such as Nick’s Rugrats and Hey Arnold! or Disney’s That’s So Raven! and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

“We know that there’s an audience that is engaged with the series, characters and talent that they watched growing up,” Paul DeBenedittis, senior vice president of programming strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide, said. “We hear this across our social-media platforms. For many who loved this timeless programming over the past decade, it’s like comfort food.”

SOLID ANCHORS

The “Disney Replay” block of shows, which airs from midnight to 6 a.m. on Thursday mornings, launched in 2014. Since June, it has been anchored by That’s So Raven! and Lizzie McGuire, which are generating sizable audiences.

Since June, That’s So Raven! (which airs two episodes from midnight to 1 a.m.) is averaging 1.3 million viewers and Lizzie McGuire (1 to 2 a.m.) is averaging 1.1 million viewers on a live-plus-seven-day basis. That compares favorably to Disney’s October total-day average of 1.1 million viewers.

Other shows, such as Duck Tales and Kim Possible, are drawing both parents and their kids to the network’s Watch Disney Channel and DisneyChannel.com digital services. DeBenedittis said the Disney Replay offerings on digital provide the network’s targeted tween viewers with alternative programming to view, while drawing in adults who may not ordinarily access the network’s digital offerings.

“Across our digital platforms, Disney Replay allows us to expand our reach beyond the core audience of kids and families who see Disney Channel as a daily destination,” he said. “Disney Replay ignites a fan base that continues to have a special love and affinity for these classic shows across social commentary and video consumption.”

Nickelodeon last month launched “The Splat,” a multiplatform programming block on its TeenNick service.

The Splat, which runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., offers classic Nickelodeon shows including Kenan & Kel and Hey Arnold!, while offering a fan-driven web site built to drive discussion among parents and fans of the classic programming fare.

While the network would not reveal specific ratings for the block, executives have said that the block was created in response to viewer requests to see the classic Nick series available on multiple platforms.

Both networks are on course to continue vintage programming efforts for the foreseeable future.

ON-DEMAND FORMULA

DeBenedittis said Disney will continue to build on its Disney Replay strategy. The network is looking to expand the classic offerings across linear and on-demand platforms with more series and show episodes, and wants to create stunt packages that will include some new and fresh editorial elements.

For example, Disney will offer several episodes of Miley Cyrus-starrer Hannah Montana — which ran on Disney Channel from 2006 to 2010 — during the Thanksgiving week on the Watch Disney Channel site to engage both parents and kids during the holiday break.

“We saw Hannah Montana become a favorite again across all platforms this summer,” DiBenedittis said. “It’s the timeless themes of wish fulfillment; following your dreams with relatable fantasy elements; music; and great storytelling, topped with a key character played so well by Miley, that drives engagement.”