For the first time this year, Nickelodeon and its three sibling networks Nick GAS, Nicktoons and Noggin will all go dark from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. to encourage physical activity and obesity awareness. Those who tune in to any of the four networks will just see a "Worldwide Day of Play" logo and a scroll across the bottom of the screen encouraging children to go out and play.
Go Out and Play initiatives have become of increasing importance to Nickelodeon in recent years as the network has dedicated more airtime and special events to its Let's Just Play program. The NFL teamed up with the network for its Go Healthy Challenge, while partners for the blackout include The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, The American Heart Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York and the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Advertisers such as Kellogg have also matched Nickelodeon's efforts, donating $100,000 to build up health-and-wellness programs in local schools. From Oct. 1 to the end of December, the network and certain advertising partners each will donate $300,000 worth of funds in $5,000 increments to participating schools.
"The whole mission is to encourage a balance through on-air all the time and the Go Healthy Challenge, to take the time to be more active and hopefully active with the family, too," said Joanna Roses, a Nickelodeon spokeswoman. "We believe at Nick that kids can be instigators of change."
After the money-making daypart
The Saturday-afternoon blackout also comes at the end of a big money-making daypart for Nickelodeon. For the last decade, Nick has been the top-rated network for children 6-11 on Saturday mornings, routinely beating its broadcast competitors and other kids cable nets such as Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon grossed $49.7 million in ad revenue in the Saturday-morning daypart (5 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.) in 2006, making it the fourth most-profitable network airing kids programming in the time period (behind ABC, CBS and NBC).
Ms. Roses said the shows that normally air during the 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. time period are reruns of popular Nick cartoons like "SpongeBob SquarePants."