Since its establishment in 1977, Nickelodeon has charmed young audiences with a slate of impressive shows, such as Spongebob Squarepants and The Fairly Odd Parents.
Although Nickelodeon has built an impressive brand by providing its viewers with quality content, it stands against multiple competitors, an oversaturated market, and the emergence of disruptive technology.
Syahrizan Mansor, the Vice President of Nickelodeon Brand, Asia, Viacom International Media Networks, shares her insights about how Nickelodeon can stay afloat in a competitive industry.
Determining Nickelodeon’s Target Audience
Despite its previous success, Nickelodeon has been hampered by the emergence of over-the-top (OTT) media services, such as Netflix, which has absorbed viewership from traditional cable providers. According to an article by the L.A. times (James, 2019), Nickelodeon has lost almost 60% of its audience since 2010. Furthermore, a study by Bernstein & Co reported that Nickelodeon’s viewership amongst its core audience decreased by 28% in 2017, as compared to its ratings for 2018.
In order to address these occurrences, Nickelodeon periodically analyses its viewers, and uses their findings to create quality content that suits their target audience. Furthermore, Nickelodeon segments their target audience to clarify their organisation’s overall mission, which clarifies the type of content that they will produce.
“Nickelodeon’s target audience is aged 2 – 15 years old.” Mansor states. “We break them down into two groups. We offer Nick Jr. as ‘The Smart Place to Play’ for our preschool fans (age 2 – 6 years) and their parents. Our preschool shows are both smart and fun on Nick Jr., powered by great stories, relatable characters, meaningful, character-led curriculum that has been our hallmark.”
“We offer co-viewing experiences between preschool fans and their parents. With the older age group (age 6 – 10 years), we offer content such as animation and live action series. Our animation series appeal to a broad audience, are long-lasting and are driven by comedy/humour – SpongeBob SquarePants was launched in 1999 and is still going strong.” Mansor explains.
Differentiating Nickelodeon’s Products
In order to remain competitive, Nickelodeon creates a slate of strong IP. According to Mansor, Nickelodeon collaborates with international partners to create a slate of new content, which allow it to attract and engage new viewers. Furthermore, Nickelodeon revamps shows with loyal fanbases, which allows it to retain its existing audience.
“A lot of kids’ animation and preschool content from U.S./ U.K. travel into Southeast Asia markets. The stories are universal and relatable to kids everywhere. From a content perspective, we are seeing several known series in the 80’s, 90’s or early 2000 series being made into a reboot series e.g. Alvinnn & the Chipmunk (currently on Nickelodeon channels worldwide). We are also seeing movies being made into series.” Mansor states.
“We also have a strong library of live action series and we find that our live action series continues to grow strong in the region. The shows touch on issues that are real and many kids can relate to these issues like sibling rivalry, being open to new ideas, building relationships with friends and families, and surviving school. There are heartwarming moments in the stories and plenty of laughs.” Mansor continues.
“At Nickelodeon, everything we do starts with kids first. Our extensive research shows us that funny rules with kids. Kids like things that are gross and they find it funny. It is about being mischievous and having fun, craziness and surprises. Our content also reflect the honest realities of being a kid (e.g. surviving school, exams, parents) – that it’s not all fairy-tales. Being a kid includes being awkward, silly, and messy and Nickelodeon embraces that.” Mansor explains.
Although Nickelodeon produces content that is suitable for an international audience, Mansor acknowledges the importance of considering a local audience’s preferences.
“It’s very important for us to know our audience well and tailor some of our marketing strategies/ execution to fit in the local audience needs. Nickelodeon is constantly looking for new creative ideas and content that could come from anywhere around the globe – whether this is done in schools, through an individual person, animation studios and more.” She explains.
Nickelodeon also solidifies its competitive position by searching for new ideas and cultivating talent. By fostering a culture of innovation and enterprise, Nickelodeon constructs relevant channels of fresh content for its channel.
“Over the last few years, we launched a global animated shorts programme, designed to identify and develop new animation talent and provide a platform for new content for our audience. This enables us to also work with individuals, writers, schools, etc.” Mansor describes.
“Everything that we create or produce, we want to create it once and publish it everywhere – across platforms (channel, VOD, theatrical, live events, etc.) and we want to amplify the presence of these IPs across social media, recreation, partnerships, etc.” Mansor continues.
In order to capitalise on disruptive technology and digital innovation, Nickelodeon ensures that their content is accessible over multiple platforms.
“We know kids today are consuming content across multiple platforms and devices. Hence, we are thrilled to debut Nickelodeon Play and Nick Jr. Play apps for the first time in Asia, via our collaboration with Singtel in Singapore. These apps allow kids to connect with the world of Nickelodeon and access content such as shows, short form videos, games and exclusive content at their fingertips.” Mansor explains.
“We love the kids business, and want to continue to extend the ways we reach kids across platforms and on-ground:
More of our products are also integrated into off-screen products:
Original article published on May 16th 2016. Written in collaboration with the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) 2016 and the Southeast Asian Audio-visual Association (SAAVA).