A schoolyard brawl has broken out between kids TV powerhouse Nickelodeon and Nielsen, the company whose ratings determine advertising rates. Nick, long the leader in the space, has disputed what Nielsen says are double-digit ratings declines since September.
At stake for Nickelodeon are millions of dollars from such popular shows as SpongeBob SquarePants and iCarly. Nick accounted for about 25 percent of Viacom's $1.39 billion in ad revenue in fourth-quarter 2010. Already the ratings shortfall has caused Nick to dole out so-called make-goods to advertisers. And the network is on track to surrender its ratings crown to rival Disney Channel for the year among the coveted demo of kids ages 6 to 11 for the first time since Disney Channel launched in 1983.
Still, no one is disputing Disney Channel's ascendant ratings. The Nick nemesis is up 8 percent in total day and 11 percent in primetime viewers among kids 6 to 11, though Nick still will win the year in kids 2 to 11. In addition, Disney Channel, home of Kim Possible and Wizards of Waverly Place, is now the leading network among girls, 40 percent of whom cite it as the "first channel I go to," according to Disney research. "The days of Nickelodeon being the only kids network are over," says Paul DeBenedittis, senior vp programming strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide, citing its diverse roster of series. "It's not one hit show, it's eight shows."
- Target Demo: 6-14
- Top-Rated Show/Viewers: A.N.T. Farm (2.4 million)
- Target Demo: 2-11
- Top-Rated Show/Viewers: SpongeBob, iCarly (2.3 million each)