Nickelodeon. Analysis of a Cable Network

Term Paper, 1999
8 Pages, Grade: 1- (A-)





Philosophy & Programming Strategies

Types of Programming

Recent Developments & Future Plans


Facts & Figures



This research paper deals with a cable network that could establish itself within the last 20 years from a small and unknown service to a synonym for kids’ programming: Nickelodeon. The basic cable network is one of the most successful ones in the US – commercially as well as from a programming standpoint – and is also expanding into other countries all over the world[1]. As a result of a clever branding approach the name of the network is well known to a lot of people and stands for a unique philosophy and image, which will also be discussed in this research paper. Nickelodeon is one of the biggest players (if the not the single biggest one) in the worldwide ‘kidvid’ market and therefor should be very interesting to analyze.


The New York-based cable channel started out in 1979 as a commercial-free service. Before that, Nickelodeon was part of Warner Cable’s interactive cable experiment QUBE in Columbus, Ohio. The reasons for the program to be changed to a full cable network, however, were more than usual: Nickelodeon wasn’t created for the children’s sake, but for cable operators who needed a service which was attractive to young families so they would subscribe to cable (Picard 1993, p. 150).

Nickelodeon consequently didn’t play a major role in the first five years of its existence and had appeal to only very few children. Then, however, major changes took place: Not only did Nickelodeon start to accept advertiser support in 1984, it also turned into a 24-hour program with the successful implementation of Nick at Nite in 1985[2].

Philosophy & Programming Strategies

In the mid-eighties, not only the network’s financing was changed and Nick at Nite was added, but also the general approach was somewhat altered. While at first Nickelodeon focused on education and seriousness, an extensive make-over rendered the network much more oriented towards the anarchic fun and silliness it is known for today. Geraldine Laybourne, Nickelodeon’s executive vice president and general manager states that in the beginning “[we were] just trying to do good for kids, […] we were labeled the ‘green vegetables’ network” (Tyler 1989, p. 59). Now the philosophy is slightly different: “We’re not here to change kids or increase their reading scores. We think it’s pretty tough, being a kid today. They are growing up in households where most have a single parent or both parents work. We ought to be a place where they can just relax, where kids can just be kids” (Zoglin 1988, p. 78B).

Within six months after the makeover and the introduction of the ‘new’ Nickelodeon, ratings and reviews by the critics went up dramatically. One of the reasons might have been the new policy of testing every program or promo with kids and let them approve of the product. The programming department employs research techniques such as focus groups and national polls to find out, what kids exactly want to see on television – and not what adults assume they want to see (Picard 1993, p. 152).

Types of Programming

Nickelodeon is geared towards children from 2 to 15 years and offers “a unique blend of news, variety and game shows, music, comedy. Adventure and magazine shows, original and comedy series and a lineup of original animation known collectively as Nicktoons” (Hankin 1998, p. 106).

Maybe the most successful and well-known Nickelodeon show is ‘Rugrats’ for which the network pays $400,000 per half hour episode and which is produced in association with the creators of the famous FOX series ‘The Simpsons’ (Picard 1993, p. 154).

For an overview of Nickelodeon’s schedule refer to the appendix, for detailed descriptions of the different shows, check out Nickelodeon’s web page at

Recent Developments & Future Plans

Recent developments of the network include two new digital services – Nickelodeon Games & Sports and Nick Too. The former (launched on March 1st 1999) features kids game shows that have been popular on the ‘normal’ Nickelodeon in the past, such as ‘Double Dare’ or ‘Figure It Out’, while the latter simply offers a time shifted feed of Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite (Petrozello 1998a, p. 61).

In terms of programming the future plans of Nickelodeon focus very heavily on the previously successful concept of animated series. There is talk about tailoring the cartoons and other shows more specifically to each gender, as well as establishing the new services like Games & Sports, which right now are not ad-supported yet, but eventually will be (Higgins 1999, p.22).


[1] Right now Nickelodeon can be seen in over 100 countries worldwide (Hankin 1998, p. 106)

[2] Since children are watching only during the day, it obviously made sense to target a different audience during the night. Nick at Nite is on from 8 PM to 6 AM and caters to babyboomers who grew up with television by airing mainly TV classics from the last four decades like ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘The Brady Bunch’ or ‘ The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (see schedule in the appendix). In this paper, however, I will only focus on the ‘normal’ daytime Nickelodeon.

Excerpt out of 8 pages


Nickelodeon. Analysis of a Cable Network
Ohio University  (School of Telecommunication)
Cable Communication
1- (A-)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
405 KB
Philosophy & Programming Strategies, Types of Programming, Recent Developments & Future Plans, Competition, Facts & Figures
Quote paper
Christoph Koch (Author), 1999, Nickelodeon. Analysis of a Cable Network, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Nickelodeon. Analysis of a Cable Network

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free