EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon’s series about six heroic rescue puppies and their boy Ryder debuted in August and today earned a 26-episode Season 2 pickup. Airing at noon weekdays, Paw Patrol is TV’s top-rated preschooler series in Live+Seven Day. The next season of the show — which focuses on citizenship, social skills and problem-solving — will introduce new characters, vehicles and gadgets. The series from Spin Master Entertainment is rolling out on Nickelodeon’s international channels this month.
Nickelodeon has ordered 40 half-hour episodes of Go Viral, a studio game show that features kid contestants as they compete in elimination challenges revolving around viral videos. Each round will test kids on the videos – from predicting outcomes to guessing their popularity as voted by the studio audience. Go Viral will be produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions, with Seacrest and Adam Sher serving as executive producers. Production is slated to begin early next year in Los Angeles with a premiere set for Summer 2014.
EXCLUSIVE UPDATED: Nickelodeon has ordered a 22-episode second season of promising new comedy series Haunted Hathaways. Additionally, the cable network has picked up a third season of Nick at Nite‘s See Dad Run with an order for 13 episodes. In its first season, Haunted Hathaways is drawing 2.3 million total viewers and averages a 4.0/1.3M with kids 2-11 and a 5.0/959K with kids 6-11. The series is posting 13% year-over-year gains with kids 2-11 and 6-11 in the Saturday 8:30 PM slot. In its second season, See Dad Run is averaging 1.2 million total viewers, up 3% among adults 18-49 in the Sunday 8 PM period.
Following a much publicized ratings slump, Nickelodeon has been on a rebound, finishing the recent third quarter up 12% vs. 2012. Since May, Nick has successfully launched five new series: Sam & Cat, Haunted Hathaways, Instant Mom (on Nick at Nite), Sanjay & Craig, and Paw Patrol. Nick’s next live-action series, The Thundermans, premieres November 2.
EXCLUSIVE: The kids cable channel has greenlighted a 26-episode second season of the hit animated preschool series based on the characters created by Beatrix Potter in her classic children’s book series. Launched on Nickelodon in December 2012, Peter Rabbit is produced in conjunction with Silvergate Media and animated by Brown Bag Films.
This spring, the Writers Guild of America, West demanded a $3 million bond from Nickelodeon because of “chronically late residuals payment and inadequate reporting practices”. At that time, the Guild threatened to issue a stop work order for writers who worked on Nick shows if the Viacom-owned network failed to pay up. Now WGA says Nickelodeon has come through and it has collected $11 million in payments for writers who work on Nick shows. Nickelodeon tonight released the following statement: “We have the utmost respect and admiration for all of our writers, and have worked very hard with the WGA over the past months to ensure all residual payments have been made. As the Guild notes, we have now completely remedied the situation, and we look forward to a continued excellent working relationship with our writers.”
The company’s leading Wall Street critic, Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger, raises the provocative idea this morning in a report that questions whether Viacom‘s stock — now hovering around its all-time high — can continue to rise. The share price has appreciated 55.4% so far in 2013 as investors grew confident that the company had reversed a startling decline in Nickelodeon’s ratings that began to show in late 2011. CEO Philippe Dauman says the turnaround largely reflects the success of new programs including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But Juenger says this morning that the ratings gains — and improvements in ad sales — are about to slow. Nickelodeon benefited in part because it began to target pre-Kindergarten viewers from 8:30 AM-2 PM — loading up on programs such as Dora The Explorer, Umizoomi, and Bubble Guppies – while Nick Jr focused on franchises “with arguably less audience appeal.” As a result “Nick Jr. lost about 250-300k average daily viewers [while] Nickelodeon gained about 100k.” Meanwhile, Nickelodeon squeezed SpongeBob SquarePants which now accounts for 45% of the channel’s programming hours, up from 25% in January 2012. “We know of no other network that relies so heavily on one single franchise,” Juenger says. It’s “undeniably risky to be so dependent on one franchise, especially
There appears to be a trend here that might disturb studios that released family films with the expectation of seeing a windfall from licensed merchandise sales. The new pre-holiday recommendations from Toys ‘R Us (it lists its “Fabulous 15″) and Walmart (it has 23 items it says were “Chosen by Kids”) feature TV characters including Disney Junior’s Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Sesame Street’s Elmo. But when it comes to films, Toys ‘R Us suggests one from Universal’s Despicable Me 2, and Walmart has something from Disney’s Planes — but there’s nothing from DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo, Fox’s Epic, Pixar’s Monsters University, or Sony’s Smurfs 2. It’s a sign of a larger trend says International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association SVP Marty Brochstein. “TV seems to be grabbing more of the attention and shelf space,” he says. Some film properties were hurt by the summer’s animation glut.
Nickelodeon has greenlighted two new animated series, Bad Seeds and Pig Goat Banana Cricket, ordering 26 episodes of each. In addition, the kids network has ordered four live-action pilots – Smart Alec form veteran producer Tommy Lynch; Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Don; Twang; and Untitled Cheerleader Project, – greenlighted a pair of digital series (Welcome to the Wayne and Junior Eye), and inked young actors Noah Urrea, Jace Norman and Haley Tju to talent deals from its recent talent showcase at The Groundlings in LA. This marks the first greenlight slate for Russell Hicks as Nick’s President, Content Development and Production. “All these projects represent fresh, new creative voices from diverse backgrounds who want to make great, funny content for kids,” he said. Here are details on all newly ordered series:
Comedy writer-producer Andy Gordon has set up half-hour projects at Fox and Nickelodeon. At Fox, he has Falling Into Place, a multi-camera ensemble comedy about five college friends who, four or five years out of college, each experiences a loss and tries to overcome it. 20th TV is producing. At Nickelodeon, where Gordon previously created and executive produced True Jackson VP, he has country-themed multi-camera comedy Twang, about the four semi-spoiled children of a country music star who are relocated from their privileged life in Los Angeles to their mother’s childhood home in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. UTA-repped Gordon serves as co-executive producer on TV Land’s upcoming Kirstie Alley sitcom Kirstie. He was recently an executive producer on ABC’s Last Man Standing and previously worked on Fox’s The Loop and Back To You.
EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon has ordered 6 more episodes of The Haunted Hathaways, bringing the supernatural comedy’s freshman season to 26 episodes. The Haunted Hathaways will return with originals on September 14 at 8:30 PM. Since its July 13 launch, which drew solid 3.3 million total viewers, the live-action series has averaged 2.8 million total viewers, 1.5M K2-11 and 1.1M K6-11, improving its time period by double digits. The Haunted Hathaways joins another new Nick comedy series whose freshman season was recently supersized, Nick at Nite/NickMom’s Instant Mom.
EXCLUSIVE: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, star of NickMom’s upcoming comedy series Instant Mom, and the show’s executive producer Aaron Kaplan are expanding their relationship with Nickelodeon. The two have sold an untitled Drill Sergeant comedy project to the flagship Nickelodeon channel. Loosely based on Mowry-Hardrict’s upbringing, the comedy revolves around a 12-year-old girl who lives on an Army base with her drill sergeant mother. Dan Kopelman (Rules Of Engagement) will pen the script and executive produce with Mowry-Hardrict and Kaplan through his Kapital Entertainment. In addition to InstantMom, Kaplan also executive produces the Nickelodeon series Wendell & Vinnie, which premiered earlier this year.
Nickelodeon Original Films has acquired the supernatural family pitch Boogeymen from writer John Sullivan. Described as a Men In Black-style adventure involving a fearful kid who partners up with the Boogeyman to investigate paranormal activity, the film has Howard Deutch (Pretty In Pink) attached to direct. Sullivan, repped by Benderspink and WME, recently wrote Science Fair for MGM and created the comic book The Reaper for Arcana Studios and Mammo Media.Deutch, repped by Verve, Echo Lake and Thrive, is currently directing episodes of HBO’s True Blood and Getting On.
NEW YORK, July 25, 2013 — Nickelodeon and Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), today announced a new global, multi-year agreement to develop and publish video games featuring pop culture phenomenon SpongeBob SquarePants. The first game to be published in the new partnership will be SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge, an all-new action-adventure video game set to be released on Oct. 22 for the Xbox 360® games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Nintendo Wii™ and Wii U™ systems, and the Nintendo DS™ and 3DS™ handheld systems.
The Animation Guild and Nickelodeon Animation Studios had a deal and now they have a contract. Today a vote was held at the studio in Burbank and the final result had 90.1% of the 61 recently unionized CG Artists of Local 839 IATSE voting Yes for the contract. The Guild has had a contract covering traditional animation artists at the Viacom-owned cable network since 2004. Since 2008, Local 839 has been trying to organize CG artists under its protection. In the case of the 70 Nickelodeon employees, negotiations started in March and were “stringent” at the beginning, I hear. However, sources tell me but with a bit of give on both sides, they reached a deal on July 10. “Nick negotiators Bill Cole and Kevin Ellman were tough but flexible, and had a lot to do with the parties reaching agreement,” said the Guild’s Business Representative Steve Hulett in a statement today about the crew on the other side of the table. The Guild said Friday that the main issue in the talks was to insure uninterrupted health coverage for covered employees with bridging from Nickelodeon’s corporate insurance to the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan.
The Animation Guild is a local union of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada.
How many Nickelodeon-loving children will shed tears over Netflix‘s Viacom programming dump? Deadline reader Zeke sends in this message from his 4-year-old son to Reed Hastings. (Netflix’s loss is Amazon Prime‘s gain):
Shares opened up more than 4% this morning after Philippe Dauman reassured investors that Viacom will continue to generate lots of cash from deals with streaming services — even if its program licensing pact with Netflix expires at the end of this month. “We’re still in discussions with Netflix…and with others,” he told analysts in a conference call. “We’re open to licensing content, some of it on an exclusive basis.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings raised some fears last week when he said that his company would let its current deal with Viacom expire. Netflix is shifting its focus to “exclusive and curated content” as opposed to “non-exclusive, bulk content deals,” he said. The streaming service would be fine without Nickelodeon shows because “with all the recently added fresh programming from Disney, Cartoon Network, Hasbro’s The Hub and DreamWorks Animation, we have a great kids offering.” But Dauman also says that Viacom has little to fear without Netflix — and has “enough visibility” to know that the entertainment company can realize its forecast to see streaming revenues grow 10% this fiscal year.
Analysts expect to hear encouraging news across the board from the barrage of Big Media Q1 earnings reports and conference calls this week and next. But they’ll be listening especially carefully to Viacom on Wednesday. Its shares — which recently hit all-time highs — are down 3.6% since Monday night, when Netflix said that it will let its streaming deal with Viacom expire next month. Netflix says it would rather secure exclusive rights to particular shows instead of broad deals for shows that also appear on other streaming services including Amazon and Hulu. That worries some investors: Viacom has reassured them that all’s well following Nickelodeon‘s ratings dive last year — and backed up its confidence by promising to repurchase $2.5B in stock this year and pay $1 per share in dividends. The question now is whether Viacom can afford to make good on those vows. “Cash, rather than content, remains king,” Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser says this morning. The Netflix news adds to the concerns about Viacom already held by Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger — the company’s toughest critic on Wall Street. “We don’t think Netflix will bid a big sum for the specific programs it wants from Viacom,” he says this AM. “If they were willing to do so, they wouldn’t have gone through this exercise.” Nor does Juenger believe that Amazon will become a white knight. It “has all the leverage. Anything they offer to Viacom is better than nothing.” He adds that it would be “the ultimate irony if Viacom claimed the loss of Netflix would help their linear ratings, given years of arguing the opposite.” Others are more sanguine about Viacom’s prospects.
This news nugget was tucked into Netflix‘s letter to investors that CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells released today: They say that at the end of May they won’t renew their broad deal with Viacom Networks that enables Netflix to carry programming from Nickelodeon, BET and MTV. “We are in discussions with them about licensing particular shows but have yet to conclude a deal,” the execs say. The change reflects Netflix’s effort to “focus on exclusive and curated content” which lessens its willingness to pay for “non-exclusive, bulk content deals.” Hastings and Wells add that “with all the recently added fresh programming from Disney, Cartoon Network, Hasbro’s The Hub and DreamWorks Animation, we have a great kids offering.” Netflix also says that it will try to appeal to large families by offering an $11.99 a month service that enables subscribers to stream up to four shows simultaneously vs the standard $7.99 service which allows two streams. The execs say that they expect “fewer than 1% of members to take it.”
EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon‘s top programming executive Marjorie Cohn is leaving. I hear that she has opted to depart the kids cable network after a 26-year tenure. Following a series of promotions, Cohn, a very well liked TV executive, most recently served as President, Content Development, Nickelodeon. She added animation and digital to her existing portfolio of live-action programming last year, following the departure of Brown Johnson when Russell Hicks was elevated to President, Content Development and Production for the Nickelodeon Group. Cohn has shepherded some of Nick’s biggest hits, including Rugrats, iCarly and SpongeBob. In the wake of her departure, Cohn’s direct reports are now expected to report to Hicks as Nick’s programming efforts have been shifting from New York, where Cahn has been based, to Los Angeles, where Hicks is. UPDATE: In addition to Cohn, also departing is EVP Nickelodeon Prods. Alison Dexter as part of a restructuring that eliminates the position as the production groups will now report to the live-action and animation executives. Here is the internal Nick memo from Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids & Family Group, outlining the changes:
Eight months ago, Russell Hicks took on his new role as our head of content development and production and relocated to Los Angeles. Since that time, we have focused our attention on serving the first generation of post-millennial viewers with exciting new content, introduced an innovative new brand experience through our App, and experienced new momentum in our ratings.