Nick Courts Advertisers Looking for Adults

While Nickelodeon has made attracting kid-targeted advertisers a priority during the kids’ upfront, the network is also quietly pitching shows that draw both adults and kids to brands looking to reach adults 18-49.

With iconic series like SpongeBob SquarePants, event programming like the Kids’ Choice Awards and new series like Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn that appeal to adults as well as kids, the network is aiming to grab a slice of the adult advertising market.

“There are a lot of adults in the Nickelodeon family; I think this is a critical year where advertisers might start to buy that way,” Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami told Multichannel News.

Added Jim Perry, head of advertising sales for the Nickelodeon Group: “We’re going aggressively into the adult space using our entire portfolio. We feel good about the message we’re going to tell and we’re open for business.”

Nickelodeon in 2013 posted a 13% increase in its adult 18-49 audience, mostly due to the appeal of shows that draw co-viewing audiences, such as live action comedy The Thundermans as well as classic series such as iCarly and SpongeBob. “There are more adults who know about iCarly than let on, and on the animation side, 25% of the SpongeBob SquarePants audience are adults without kids,” Zarghami said.

Also, the network’s animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles draws the secondbiggest viewership among adults 18-49 on Saturday mornings, behind only ESPN. Zarghami said those shows, plus new programs like Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, which follows the lives of quadruplets and their parents, and July’s new Kids’ Choice Sports Awards — an extension of the highly co-viewed Kids’ Choice Awards franchise — will encourage more adults to watch the network with or without their kids.

“We have the opportunity this year to cement that idea in the hearts and minds of the consumers as well as the advertisers who know the value of kids watching with their parents,” Zarghami said. “That’s a big part of the strategy for the upfront.”

Of course, Nick’s primary goal is to reach kid-friendly advertisers. Zarghami said the network “feels good” about its position entering the 2014 upfronts after suffering through declining ratings going into last year’s period. The network finished February as the top basiccable network with kids 2 to 11, marking 13 straight months of prior-year gains within its targeted demo.

“We have tremendous momentum — we know this audience better than we knew them a year ago, we’re moving pretty quickly, we’re moving across all of our platforms and we have a lot of stuff that’s currently resonating with our audience,” Zarghami said. “One of the things we said last year was we need to make more and we need to make it faster and we need to make it better for this audience. What I think we’re here to do [in the upfronts] is to show that, in 12 short months, we can check a couple of boxes off .”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.