Nickelodeon's motto for its upfront presentation appears to be "in with the new."
As the children's cable network looks to revive sagging ratings, it is turning to a new breed of kids it dubs "post-millennials." Nickelodeon is looking to serve children born after 2005, introducing a slate of animated and live-action comedy series, educational preschool programming and emerging platforms at its presentation held at Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday afternoon.
While last year's upfront was soft compared to prior years, Jim Perry, Nickelodeon's exec VP- 360 brand sales, said recent scatter, or ad inventory purchased close to air date, has been stronger and the network has seen high sellout levels for March. Ad spending from movie studios and toy makers has picked up, he said, while several quick-service restaurants are getting back into the kids' space after pulling out a while back, he noted.
Nickelodeon, like its sibling channels within the Viacom portfolio, has been focusing on multiple media venues, not just the TV screen. The network launched its first app last week. Instead of using the app as just another place for children to watch content, the network has positioned it as an entertainment hub where users can stream animated clips, play free games and take part in interactive polls.
Nickelodeon has been investing in programming to breathe new life into a slate that in recent years has been dominated by the aging "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Coming TV series include the cartoons "Sanjay & Craig," about a boy and his best friend -- a snake -- and "Breadwinners," which features two ducks who operate a bread-delivery service out of their jet-fueled rocket van. Nick is renewing "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for a third season.
The network was expected to announce two live-action comedies, "The Haunted Hathaways," about a family who moves into a haunted house; and "The Thundermands," about the sibling rivalry of twins in a family of superheroes.
In preschool, Nickelodeon was set to introduce its first "literacy" show, "Wallykazam," as well as "Blaze and the Monster Machines," which is its first program dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Nickelodeon also was set to discuss Nick Studio 10, a live afternoon-programming block that made its debut earlier this month, a partnership with Brian Robbins' AwesomenessTV online site and a new sketch-comedy workshop for live-action development.