Who knew that kids would go ga-ga over a cartoon sponge with square pants? Nickelodeon operates a leading cable channel for kids that reaches about 100 million domestic households. Its top programs include Dora the Explorer, iCarly, and SpongeBob SquarePants. During primetime and late night hours, the channel aims at an older crowd with its Nick At Nite programming block which includes such classic comedies as The Cosby Show, Home Improvement, and Roseanne. Along with its flagship network, Nickelodeon oversees Nick Jr., a commercial-free educational channel for children, as well as several online destinations designed for kids. The company is part of MTV Networks, a subsidiary of media giant Viacom.
Nickelodeon fills an important programming niche within Viacom's stable of cable channels, generating revenue primarily through advertising and carriage fees paid by cable system operators such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The company has capitalized on the popularity of its children's shows to create new revenue streams through licensed merchandise, DVDs, and other spin-off products. Nickelodeon has also reached into the feature film market with movies based on characters such as The Rugrats and SpongeBob. In partnership with sister movie company Paramount Pictures, it released in 2010 a live-action movie based on the show Avatar: The Last Airbender directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
A pioneer in kid's programming, Nickelodeon is facing increased competition for young teen and 'tween viewers from Walt Disney's Disney Channel and Time Warner's Cartoon Network. Viacom's cable network has struck back with live-action series programming including iCarly, The Naked Brothers Band, and True Jackson, VP. In an effort to expand its appeal to parents and families, Nickelodeon in 2009 added its first original series to the Nick at Nite programming block, a show called Glenn Martin, DDS created by former Disney chairman Michael Eisner's Torante Co. Nickelodeon has also taken steps to boost its brand recognition within the kid's programming universe, renaming its NOGGIN channel Nick Jr. and recasting The N as TeenNick in 2009.
The kid's channel was launched in 1979 as Pinwheel, a programming block focused on preschool children. By 1984 it was renamed Nickelodeon and began branching out to other age groups under the direction of MTV creator Bob Pittman.
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