Nick Wraps Upfront with Single-Digit Volume Gains

With the general market upfront unfolding more slowly than in years past, it took kids market leader Nickelodeon somewhat longer than usual to wrap its upfront business.

But Jim Perry, head of sales for the Nickelodeon Group, said it was worth the wait.

"We’re very pleased with volume and pricing,” Perry said during an interview Wednesday afternoon,after Nickelodeon completed its upfront sales process. He pegged Nickelodeon’s gains in the single digits overall, in a marketplace he estimated was down in the mid-single digits. 

Perry said that with ratings improvement on the Nickelodeon mothership -- after rare slippage a couple of years back -- and Nielsen amelioration with Nick Junior and Nick Toons, the kids programmer brought more GRPs  to the marketplace negotiating table  – a position that also benefited from Cartoon Network migrating an hour to Adult Swim. As such, Nick grew its market share.

Although Nickelodeon officials would not address specifics, the kids marketplace has registered business in the $700 million to $800 million range in recent years.

Perry pointed to growth across a number of key categories, with clients targeting the kids themselves, as well as packages that emphasized Nick’s strong co-viewing – “a key driver”  -- with parents and/or caregivers in the mix.

He said that studios were very aggressive, securing schedules ahead of their key theatrical releases, while toy companies bought into the “hard” weeks ahead of the Christmas and Easter seasons.

Consumer packaged goods companies will have a big presence on Nick and its spinoffs during the season ahead, and that “insurance was a big success.”

Conversely, food was one category where Nick saw some “pull back,” but he anticipates more action in the scatter market.

Underlining Nick’s leadership position in the marketplace, the programmer typically writes business accounting for upward of 70% of its linear inventory.

Perry said the company was also registered advances on the digital side through a recently launched, its digital app now counting some 9 million users and commitments to launching more original content in these venues.

Although the additional platforms, by nature, tend to extend the negotiation process, as clients are brought up to speed about current offerings and future fare,  Perry said those conversations proved worthwhile as Nick increased its take in the digital space as well.