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Nick Offers Local VOD Extras

In an effort to promote its upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer television movies, Nickelodeon is offering several cable affiliates exclusive local video-on-demand programming from the network’s two most popular franchises.

The arrangement is part of Nickelodeon’s aggressive local VOD marketing effort that it hopes will increase viewership for both movies through participating Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Cox Communications systems in 25 markets, according to Lara Salamano, senior director of content distribution and marketing for MTV Kids and Family Group.


In an effort to drive awareness for Dora Saves the Mermaids (to debut today, Nov. 5) and SpongeBob’s Atlantis (Nov. 12), Nickelodeon is offering participating affiliates the ability to air two additional SpongeBob and Dora episodes via its VOD service. In addition, Nick will also provide affiliates with two exclusive music videos from both franchises for on-demand consumption.

Cable operators can choose to run either or both on-demand exclusives.

The network already offers 15 hours a month of Nick Jr. pre-school and Nickelodeon tween/teen-targeted VOD content — including episodes from Nick’s SpongeBob Squarepants and Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer — as part of its Nick On Demand service.

“[Cable-operator] corporate [executives] are pretty strict with their hours not going above a certain point,” she said. “These local guys can take additional content on their own platform and promote it within their own cities.”

Salamano said the network decided to approach individual systems who they believed would be interested in the content and were flexible with on-demand bandwidth allotments.

Nickelodeon is also providing other local marketing support, including some proprietary Dora and SpongeBob Web content, costumed character appearances at local affiliate-sponsored events, sweepstakes prizes including free trips to the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando, and other giveaways.

In return, Salamano said operators have to commit to running numerous spots promoting the movies that operators can tag with their own logos and messages promoting the exclusive SpongeBob and Dora VOD content, although she would not reveal specific figures.

But executives close to the deal say the spot outlay could be as much as 500 to 600 spots split evenly between the two movies. Typical Nickelodeon marketing campaigns revolving around its special TV events have required in the neighborhood of 100 to 200 spots, according to industry executives.


Time Warner Cable group vice president, marketing communications Lauren LoFrisco said the addition of exclusive SpongeBob and Dora content will further build value for the operator’s on demand platform.

“Having original content from great brands like SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer is another avenue that helps demonstrate the vibrancy of the VOD platform,” LoFrisco said. “Not only can Time Warner Cable customers watch what they want, when they want, but they can also see things unavailable anywhere else, very often for free.”

Salamano said SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer programming represent the top two most viewed shows on Nick On Demand, which drew 18 million views this past September and has generated 132 million views since the beginning of the year.

Salamano believes the promotion could provide as much as a 15% boost in viewership and ratings within the 25 participating markets over the national average performance for both movies. “We have seen a direct correlation between our local promotions and our ratings whenever we do them,” she said.

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.