Nick Jr. Adds Saturday Shows-on CBS

New York-Nickelodeon will start programming CBS' Saturday-morning kids' schedule on Sept. 16, bringing five existing shows and one new preschool series to the broadcaster's lineup, officials said last week.

Under a three-year deal-a sweeping example of the synergy resulting from Viacom Inc.'s acquisition of CBS Corp.-new corporate siblings Nick and CBS Television Network will also partner on future preschool shows.

Nick's "Nick Jr." weekday preschool block will in effect expand to a sixth day by running Saturdays on CBS.

The CBS Saturday children's schedule, called "Nick Jr. on CBS," will include popular series Blues Clues, Little Bill, Little Bear, Franklin and Kipper, as well as new show Dora the Explorer.

Dora, a new animated series about a seven-year-old Latina girl, debuts on Nick Aug. 14, one month before it runs on CBS. Dora is bilingual, and in each episode, she teaches viewers a Spanish word or phrase.

CBS' new children's lineup will be promoted Monday through Friday on Nick Jr., which, in turn, will be promoted by the broadcaster on Saturday mornings.

"The cross-promotion is beneficial both ways," Nick president Herb Scannell said, "and this is a great platform for Nick Jr."

CBS Productions will also partner with Nick to develop new Nick Jr. series.

Scannell doesn't expect Nick Jr. on CBS to cannibalize the cable network's own Saturday-morning viewership because the respective target audiences are kids of different ages. Nick currently airs shows such as Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants, targeted to older kids, on Saturday mornings.

The Nick Jr. block will also fulfill CBS' federal educational-TV requirements, according to officials.

Nick will sell the Nick Jr. on CBS block to advertisers, but will wait until next season to do so. "We're trying to build awareness of the block," a Nick spokesman said. This means ads won't run on the block until late 2001. Promos and interstitials will air instead.

When commercials do run, they will adhere to the Nick Jr. format: four minutes of ads per hour, running on the half-hour, between shows.

In most cases, Nick Jr. shows on CBS will be repeats of episodes that were on Nick.

Earlier, cable operators expressed concern that cable-exclusive programming they paid license fees to Nick for would air on broadcast. But MSO officials conceded that there was nothing they could do about it, and Scannell said last week that it has since become common for programming to be repurposed in that way.

Nick Jr. on CBS kicks off Saturdays at 7 a.m. with Blue's Clues. It ends with Kipper, which starts at 11:30, and will be interrupted from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. by CBS News Saturday Morning.