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As Disney and Nick Falter, Flanker Nets and Rivals Give Chase

Among the many parts of the television business to undergo major change in 2014, perhaps none has seen more of it than the kids business.

Linear viewership of kids TV content has eroded, likely due to further competition from video-on-demand and subscription VOD platforms. Longtime leaders Nickelodeon and Disney Channel have certainly felt the effects of these changes, but their flanker nets—Nick Jr., Nick Toons, Disney Junior, Disney XD—have shown more resilience. Sprout, Cartoon Network and Boomerang also remain active, with many eyes being trained on Boomerang as it transitions to an ad-supported home for expanded originals (see “Currency,” facing page).

The shift in the way kids watch TV led to major changes in the partnership between Discovery and Hasbro in the Hub Network earlier this year. The Hub, which launched in 2010, was rebranded Discovery Family Channel in October, as the programming focus shifts to Hasbro-produced children’s fare in the daytime and family-friendly fare in prime.

Disney Channel is the most-watched kids network in primetime this year when it comes to measuring households and viewers 2-11 years old. The channel is racking up an average of 1.35 million households during the cable prime block. On the other hand, Nickelodeon leads Disney in households and 2-11 viewership when it comes to total-day 6 a.m.- 6 a.m.). Cartoon Network sits behind both Nick and Disney when it comes to households and kids 2-11 in both dayparts. The Turner-owned kids net performs better in primetime than it does in total-day (as all the kids nets do) and it skews older than the others. When comparing Disney and Nick’s “flankers,” Disney Junior consistently leads Nick Jr. in household viewership and 2-11 viewership in both dayparts. The average viewer age for Disney Junior is 6.3 compared to 7.2 years old for Nick Junior.