Nickelodeon’s Ratings Fall 30%

Fuck this shit

Worries linger about Nickelodeon’s ratings slump

Wall Street analysts peppered Viacom management Thursday with questions about the mysterious ratings slump at the company’s premier children’s television network Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon’s audience levels have fallen nearly 30% this season, prompting much speculation about the reasons behind the troubling drop. The issue is far from child’s play. Nickelodeon is one of the most valuable channels in television as well as within the Viacom universe.

“Nickelodeon has fallen to levels that you’ve never seen before,” said one prominent analyst, Michael Nathanson of Nomura Securities, observed during Viacom’s call.

“We’re going to focus on ways in which we can affect the Nickelodeon brand positively,” Dauman told analysts before the opening bell. “Our pipeline is extremely strong. We’re developing more new [episodes] of our popular series and more exciting new series. And of course, we’re particularly excited about the revival of the [Teenage Ninja] Turtles franchise.”

— from Meg James, The L.A. Times

I attribute the ratings dip has to everything on Nickelodeon being shit. All their sitcoms look exactly like iCarly and iCarly is dumb. I give it credit for being better than a lot of what we had on Nick in my day, but it’s still really dumb in an objective sense. Now maybe it looks bad for me–someone in my late 20s–to complain about the quality of a TV channel aimed at 11-year-olds. Especially when I don’t even have children. OK, scratch the maybe. It makes me look pretty bad. But the planned new Ninja Turtles TV show is like kicking my generation in the balls. I know there is a Power Rangers series airing on Nick right now, but we all collectively got bored with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers around its second season, and that franchise was still limping around on Fox for more than a decade afterward.

No one really holds the Power Rangers dear like they would the Turtles. The Turtles are sacred man. You can’t just drag them out of the sewer to make a buck. You have to do them justice. I don’t mind CGI Turtles, but I don’t trust the network that has Kung-fu Panda and that Penguins cartoons on its lineup.

True, there was that revived Turtles cartoon on Fox a few years back. I actually watched it. More than that, I attended viewing parties with fellow nostalgic ’90s kids. The Fox cartoon was pretty good. My favorite episode was the garbage island one, where this villiam named the Garbageman was kidnapping homeless men and forcing them to work on an island made of garbage. Yes, that happened. The best part was at the end. After the Turtles defeated Garbageman, the hobos all still chose to remain on the garbage island. They were truly free men. I didn’t really watch the new version in its later seasons. Wikipedia says it ran for 7 seasons, which seems like a bit too much. In fact, here is the rundown of TMNT TV series:

  1. Classic Turtles: 1987-1996 (syndication & CBS)
  2. The Shitty Live-Action One: 1997-1998 (Fox)
  3. Second Cartoon: 2003-2009 (Fox)
  4. CGI version: coming 2012 (Nick)

Looking at this list, I am surprised by how long the Turtles have been on TV. The longest we’ve gone without a series is only five years. The Ninja Turtles are certainly an American Institution. An American Institution, indeed.

Anyway, getting back to the topic. Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal that blames the ratings dive on the over-exposure of Spongebob. I say it serves Nickelodeon right.

Viacom’s SpongeBob Crisis

Overexposed or Netflixed? Ratings Sag for Long-Running Cartoon Hurts Network’s Ad Sales

Best known for getting laughs, Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” has become a wet blanket.

After 13 years on the air, the cartoon about a talking sponge is losing its hold on children. The average number of viewers aged 2 to 11 watching Spongebob at any given time dropped 29% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Nielsen.

And because “Spongebob” is the backbone of Nickelodeon—accounting for as much as 40% of the network’s airtime late last year—it is dragging down the whole network. Nickelodeon’s ratings fell 25% in the quarter, after a more-modest fall-off in the second half of last year.

But the show may be suffering from overexposure. In recent years, Nickelodeon has expanded Spongebob’s place on its schedule. For all of 2011, “SpongeBob” accounted for 31% of the network’s programming, and even hit 40% toward the end up the year, according to Nielsen That’s up from 23% in 2007.

Another factor may be stricter parental attitudes. In September, the journal Pediatrics published a widely circulated study linking shows like “SpongeBob” to kids’ poor performance on tests of skills such as following rules. And some parents say they don’t let their kids watch the show. Ian Guarnieri of Maplewood, N.J., says he started letting his son watch the show when he was five years old, but quickly pulled the plug. “Once we started to watch it, we decided it wasn’t something we wanted him to be watching. It’s very low brow.”

Nickelodeon decline to comment on criticism of “SpongeBob.”

–from John Jannarone, The Wall Street Journal