Nick at Nite Fans Controversy’s Flames

The separation of ratings measurements for channel space-sharers Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite has caused its share of consternation among network and research executives at some of its competitors, as the MTV Networks services have lifted their positions — and the latter has vaulted into basic-cable’s upper echelon among the 18-to-49 set.

Now, NAN is flaunting its exalted position with a trio of ads taking swipes at Turner Network Television, Lifetime Television and USA Network in trade publications Advertising Age and Mediaweek.

Addressed “To whom it may concern,” one ad read: “We regret to inform you that Lifetime, TNT and the USA Network are not #1 with adults & women 18-49. But on a much lighter note, we are.”

While USA executives — presumably otherwise occupied with more pressing matters of the week — didn’t return calls and Lifetime declined comment, TNT spokesman Sal Petruzzi shrugged off the NAN ads as messages timed for the upfront selling season right around the corner.

Still, that didn’t prevent him from taking some shots at NAN’s campaign. “They are confusing at best, misleading at worst. What’s the definition of total-day?” Petruzzi asked. “Buyers beware and read the fine print. The last few weeks TNT has been No. 1 among adults 18 to 49.”

NAN spokesman Paul Ward rejoined: “It sounds like they know melodrama. Nick at Nite stands by its position as No. 1 in total-day as sanctioned by Nielsen. It’s a position we’re proud of, something we own. If TNT is No. 1 in primetime, that’s great.”