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Nickelodeon Warms to 'Co-Viewing'

Nickelodeon said it will look for more opportunities to generate co-viewing between kids and adults during the early primetime hours on the heels of a strong ratings performance for its Sept. 12 original movie Gym Teacher.

The comedy movie, which starred Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Nathan Kress (iCarly), drew 2.8 million viewers for the kids-targeted network during the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time period, a 66% increase over the same slot last year, according to Nickelodeon. The movie was tops for the night among kids 6 to 11, drawing 1.5 million viewers in the demo.

More important for Nick, more than 44% of all kid viewers watched Gym Teacher with an adult, according to Nielsen data provided by Nickelodeon. Overall, the movie attracted 679,000 viewers 18 to 49, a 114% increase over the same period last year.

Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, said the movie achieved its goal of bringing more parents and adults to Nickelodeon at 8 p.m. and keeping them there as the network transitions to the more adult-targeted Nick at Nite service, which begins at 9 p.m. weeknights and 10 a.m. on weekends.

The strategy began in earnest this past April with this year's Kids Choice Awards. The annual show aired drawing 7.4 million viewers during the 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. time period, 55% of adults watched the show with their 2- to 11-year-old kids, compared with only 46% last year.

“One of the things we talked about strategically is that, if we can get kids to watch television with their parents and parents to watch TV with their kids, then the 8 to 10 p.m. time slot could become more meaningful in our family strategy,” she said. “The more kids who bring their parents to Nick and Nick at Nite, the more it helps Nickelodeon become more of a family brand and propels some of our other off-channel things we do, like our cruise business.”

Zarghami said the network is looking at several other franchises to help build co-viewing, including Family Guts, a new competition series that launched last week. The network also recently acquired the off-network sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which will debut in fall 2009 within the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time block.

“We're testing the waters because we believe we're responding to the audience,” she said. “All of our research has said that millennial kids like spending time with their families. With the economy the way it is, I think there's going to be a lot more co-viewing, so it feels like a real and wide open opportunity.”

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.