History of Nickelodeon
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Nickelodeon is an American basic cable and satellite television network owned by the MTV Networks Kids & Family Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom, which focuses on programs aimed at children and teenagers; it has since expanded to include three spin-off digital cable and satellite networks in the United States, and international channels in six continents.
Early history (1977–79)
Nickelodeon's history dates back to December 1, 1977, when QUBE,Template:Sfn the first two-way major market interactive cable television system was launched in Columbus, Ohio by Warner Cable (owned by Warner Communications, now known as Time Warner, and predecessor to Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment). One of the ten "community" channels that were offered at no additional charge to QUBE subscribers was C-3, which exclusively carried Pinwheel each day from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The channel was developed by Dr. Vivian Horner, who worked as director of research on the PBS series The Electric Company and included Pinwheel (one of Nickelodeon's earliest series, which spun off from the C-3 service). Nickelodeon was originally used as a loss leader for then-parent company Warner Cable.Template:Sfn As the company saw it, having a commercial-free children's channel would prove useful in franchising its cable systems across the country, with that advantage putting them over rival companies such as HBO.
Relaunch as Nickelodeon (1979–84)
Nickelodeon launched on April 1, 1979 (as the first ever all children's network) on Warner Cable's system in Buffalo, New York. It quickly expanded its audience reach, first to other Warner Cable systems across the country, and eventually to other cable providers. It was distributed via satellite on RCA Satcom-1, which went into orbit one week earlier on March 26 – originally transmitted on transponder space purchased from televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Despite its prior history on the QUBE system under the Pinwheel name, Nickelodeon designated 1979 as the year of the channel's official launch.
Initial programming on Nickelodeon included Video Comic Book, PopClips, Hocus Focus, Pinwheel (which was reformatted as a daily hour-long series that ran in a three- to five-hour block format, and was a precursor to the Nick Jr. block that replaced it in 1988), America Goes Bananaz, Nickel Flicks, and By the Way. The network's original logo incorporated a man looking into a Nickelodeon machine that was placed in the "N" in the wordmark; this was replaced the following year by another wordmark with the "Nickelodeon" text in Pinwheel's logo typeface. As Nickelodeon originally operated as a commercial-free service, the network ran interstitials between programs, consisting of a male mime doing tricks in front of a black background. At the time of its launch, Nickelodeon's programming aired for twelve hours each weekday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and for eleven hours on weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. Premium cable network Star Channel (which later relaunched as The Movie Channel in November 1979) would take over the channel space after Nickelodeon's broadcast day ended.
New shows were added to the lineup in 1980, including Dusty's Treehouse, First Row Features, Special Delivery, What Will They Think Of Next? and Livewire. In 1981, the network introduced a new logo, consisting of a silver pinball overlaid by multicolored "Nickelodeon" text. Late that year, the Canadian sketch comedy series You Can't Do That on Television made its American debut on Nickelodeon, becoming its first hit series. The green slime originally featured on that program was later adopted by Nickelodeon as a primary feature of many of its shows, including the game show Double Dare. Other shows that were part of Nickelodeon's regular schedule during its early years included The Third Eye, Standby...Lights! Camera! Action! and Mr. Wizard's World.
On April 12, 1981, the channel expanded its daily programming to thirteen hours each day, shifting the daily schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. The Movie Channel had become a separate 24-hour channel by this point, and Nickelodeon had begun turning over its channel space during its off-hours to the Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) – a fine arts-focused network owned by the Hearst Corporation and ABC joint venture Hearst/ABC Video Services; ARTS became the Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) in 1984, after ARTS merged with NBC's struggling cable service The Entertainment Channel. In 1983, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment began divesting its assets and spun off Nickelodeon and two other channels, music networks MTV and the (now defunct) Radio Television Station (RTS) into the newly formed subsidiary MTV Networks; in order to increase revenue, Nickelodeon began to accept corporate underwriting (a method common in public television) for its programming.
Laybourne era, golden age (1984–96)
Nickelodeon struggled at first, operating at a $10 million loss by 1984. The network had lacked successful programs (shows on the network that failed to gain traction during its first few years included Against the Odds and Going Great), which stagnated viewership, finishing dead last among all U.S. cable channels. After firing its management staff, MTV Networks president Bob Pittman turned to Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman, who created MTV's iconic IDs a few years earlier, to reinvigorate Nickelodeon, leading to what many believe to be the channel's "golden age".
Seibert and Goodman's company, Fred/Alan Inc., teamed up with Tom Corey and Scott Nash of the advertising firm Corey McPherson Nash to rebrand the network. The "pinball" logo was replaced with a logo featuring varied orange backgrounds (most notably a "splat" design) with the "Nickelodeon" name overlaid in the Balloon typeface, which would be used in hundreds of different variations over the next 25 years. Fred/Alan also enlisted the help of animators, writers, producers and doo-wop group The Jive Five to create new channel IDs. Within six months of the rebranding, Nickelodeon would become the dominant channel in children's programming and remained so for 26 years, even in the midst of increasing competition in more recent years from other kids-oriented cable channels such as the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.Template:Sfn It also began promoting itself as "The First Kids' Network", due to its status as the first American television network aimed at children. Along with the rebrand, Nickelodeon began accepting traditional advertising.
In the summer of 1984, A&E announced that it would become a separate 24-hour channel as of the following January. After A&E stopped sharing its channel space, Nickelodeon simply went to a test pattern screen after it signed off for the night. Pittman tasked general manager Geraldine Laybourne to develop programming for the vacated timeslot; to help with ideas, Laybourne enlisted Seibert and Goodman, who conceived the idea of a classic television block modeled after the "Greatest Hits of All Time" oldies radio format after being presented with over 200 episodes of The Donna Reed Show. On July 1, 1985, Nickelodeon became a 24-hour service with the launch of the new nighttime block, Nick at Nite, in the 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific time period. That same year, American Express sold its stake in Warner-Amex to Warner Communications; by 1986, Warner turned MTV Networks into a private company, and sold MTV, RTS, Nickelodeon, and the newly launched music video network VH1 to Viacom for $685 million, ending Warner's venture into kids' television until they acquired Cartoon Network. In 1988, the network aired the inaugural Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards (previously known as The Big Ballot), a telecast in the vein of the People's Choice Awards in which viewers select their favorites in television, movies and sports. It also introduced an educational program block for preschool-age children called Nick Jr., which replaced the former Pinwheel block.
On June 7, 1990, Nickelodeon opened Nickelodeon Studios, a hybrid television production facility/attraction at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, Florida, where many of its sitcoms and game shows were filmed. It also entered into a multimillion-dollar joint marketing agreement with Pizza Hut, which provided a new kid-targeted publication Nickelodeon Magazine for free at the chain's participating restaurants. On August 11, 1991, Nickelodeon debuted its first original animated series – Doug, Rugrats, and The Ren & Stimpy Show – under the Nicktoons banner. The development of these programs was a reversal of the network's previous concerns, as Nickelodeon had previously refused to produce weekly animated series due to the high production costs. The three series found success by 1993, resulting in the creation of the network's fourth Nicktoon, Rocko's Modern Life, which also became a success. Later, Nickelodeon partnered with Sony Wonder (currently of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) to release episode compilations of the network's programs on VHS, which became top sellers, until 1996. In 1996, Nickelodeon announced a distribution deal with Paramount Home Entertainment, with Paramount re-releasing episode compilations of the network's Nicktoons on VHS. Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show would both end production around that time; however, Doug would be revived in 1996 as part of ABC's Saturday morning lineup. Rugrats, on the other hand, returned from hiatus on May 9, 1997 (reruns continued to air up until that point).
On August 15, 1992, the network extended its Saturday schedule by two hours, with the launch of a primetime block called SNICK from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time; over the years, SNICK became home to shows such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Clarissa Explains It All, All That, The Amanda Show, and Kenan & Kel. In 2004, the block was reformatted as the Saturday edition of TEENick, which originally debuted on Sunday evenings in 2000. (The Saturday night block continues today and was not officially branded from 2009 to 2013, when the "Gotta See Saturdays" brand was adopted for the Saturday morning and primetime blocks; the TEENick branding, with its spelling altered to TeenNick, has since been used on the Nickelodeon sister channel previously known as The N). After a three-year absence following suspension of the publication in 1990, Nickelodeon resumed Nickelodeon Magazine under a pay/subscription model in June 1993. In March 1993, the channel enlisted the help of viewers to come up with new shapes in which to display its iconic orange logo in the network's promotions. The designs chosen – a cap, a balloon, a gear, a rocket and a top, among other shapes – were mainly 3D renderings, and debuted alongside a new promotional graphics package in June 1993. The success of the Saturday primetime block led Nickelodeon to expand its programming into primetime on other nights in 1996, with the extension of its broadcast day to 8:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time (and later extended to 9:00 p.m. from 1998 to 2009) on Sunday through Friday nights.
In 1994, Nickelodeon launched The Big Help, which spawned a spin-off program The Big Green Help in 2007; the program is intended to encourage activity and environmental preservation by children. That same year, Nickelodeon removed You Can't Do That on Television from its schedule after a 13-year run and subsequently debuted a new sketch comedy show, All That. For many years, until its cancellation in 2005, All That would launch the careers of several actors and actresses including Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes, and Jamie Lynn Spears. The show's executive producer, Dan Schneider, would go on to create and produce numerous hit series for Nickelodeon including The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly, Victorious, a spin-off of the latter two series, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger, and Game Shakers. Also in 1994, Nickelodeon debuted the Nicktoon Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, which would become a hit series. In October and December 1994, Nickelodeon sold a syndication package of Halloween- and Christmas-themed episodes of its Nicktoons to television stations across the United States, in conjunction with then-new corporate relative, Paramount Domestic Television.
Scannell era, expansion into film, SpongeBob debuts (1996–2006)
1997 was a watershed year for Nickelodeon. Up through the 1990s, Saturday morning cartoons had been the most popular children's programs on television. In part because of the imposition of educational television mandates on all broadcast stations in 1996, Nickelodeon and other children's-oriented cable networks (never subject to those mandates as they did not broadcast over the air) now had an advantage in not having to have its programs comply with the mandate. By 1997, Nickelodeon's Saturday morning lineup had shot ahead of all of its broadcast competition, where it would remain for the next several years.
Nickelodeon released its first feature-length film in theaters in 1996, an adaptation of the Louise Fitzhugh novel Harriet the Spy starring Michelle Trachtenberg and Rosie O'Donnell. The film went on to earn twice its $13 million budget. Two years after Harriet's success, Nickelodeon developed its popular Rugrats cartoon onto the big screen with The Rugrats Movie, which grossed more than $100 million in the United States and became the first non-Disney animated movie to ever earn that much. Then in May 1999, the channel debuted the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, which quickly became one of the most popular Nicktoons in the channel's history, and has remained very popular to this day, consistently ranking as the channel's highest-rated series since 2000.
In March 2004, Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite were split up in the Nielsen primetime and total day ratings, due to the different programming, advertisers and target audiences between the two services. This caused controversy by cable executives believing this manipulated the ratings, given that Nick at Nite's broadcast day takes up only a fraction of Nickelodeon's programming schedule. Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite's respective ratings periods encompass only the hours they each operate under the total day rankings, though Nickelodeon only is rated for the daytime ratings; this is due to a ruling by Nielsen in July 2004 that networks must program for 51% or more of a daypart to qualify for ratings for a particular daypart.
On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate into two companies as a result of the declining performance of the company's stock; both resulting companies would be controlled by Viacom parent National Amusements. In December 2005, Nickelodeon and the remainder of the MTV Networks division, as well as Paramount Pictures, BET Networks, and Famous Music (a record label that the company sold off in 2007), were spun off to the new Viacom. The original Viacom was renamed CBS Corporation and retained CBS and its other broadcasting assets, Showtime Networks, Paramount Television (now the separate arms CBS Television Studios for network and cable production, and CBS Television Distribution for production of first-run syndicated programs and off-network series distribution), advertising firm Viacom Outdoor (which was renamed CBS Outdoor), Simon & Schuster, and Paramount Parks (which was later sold).
Nickelodeon Studios closed down in 2005 and was converted into the Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre in 2007; Nickelodeon now tapes its live-action series at the Nickelodeon on Sunset studios (formerly the Earl Carroll Theatre) in Hollywood, California as well as other studio facilities in Hollywood and other locations. In 2005, Nickelodeon premiered the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which became a hit series for the network.
Zarghami era, post-CBS/Viacom split, modern times (2006–present)
After the resignation of Herb Scannell on January 5, 2006, Cyma Zarghami was appointed president of the newly formed Kids & Family Group, which currently includes Nickelodeon, [email protected], Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, TV Land, CMT, and CMT Pure Country.
In 2007, Nickelodeon entered into a four-year development deal with Sony Music to produce music-themed TV shows for the network, to help fund and launch tie-in albums, and to produce original soundtrack songs that could be released as singles. The only greenlit series produced under the partnership, Victorious, ran from 2010 to 2013. A similar hit music-themed sitcom Big Time Rush ran from 2009 to 2013, and featured a similar partnership with Columbia Records; however Columbia was only involved with the show's music, and Sony Music became involved with the show's production midway through its first season. Big Time Rush became a hit after less than a month on the air, garnering 6.8 million viewers for its official debut on January 18, 2010 (the series originally premiered with a "preview" episode in November 2009); setting a new record for highest-rated live action series premiere in the channel's history.
In February 2009, Nickelodeon announced that it would rebrand Noggin and The N as Nick Jr. and TeenNick. On February 2, Nickelodeon discontinued the TEENick and Nick Jr. blocks, although the programming featured within the blocks remained. Nickelodeon later announced in May 2009 that Nickelodeon Magazine would cease publication by the end of the year. In July 2009, Nickelodeon unveiled a new logo for the first time in 25 years on the packaging of DVD sets of the network's programs, on Nickelodeon Australia, and at that year's Nickelodeon Animation Festival, intending to create a unified look that can better be conveyed across all of MTV Networks' children's channels.
The new logo as well as new on-air graphics debuted on September 28, 2009 across Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite, along with the rebranded TeenNick, Nick Jr. and Nicktoons (formerly The N, Noggin and Nicktoons Network, respectively) channels in varying versions customized for brand unification and refreshment purposes. A new logo for Nickelodeon Productions was also used in end credit tags on all Nickelodeon shows, even on episodes aired before the new logo launch (TeenNick and Nicktoons use this vanity card on end credit tags of their programs regardless of the program's original airdate, whereas Nick Jr. only uses it and its variants for original programs on episodes of series made after the rebrand). Designed by New York City–based creative director/designer Eric Zim, the overall presentation package as well as the renaming of The N and Noggin was designed to bring each of the MTV Networks Kids & Family Group channels in line with the Nickelodeon brand identity, with a new logo system introduced to represent the network's entire family of networks and other sub-brands. The 2009 logo font is called "Litebulb".[no citations needed here]
The wordmark logo bug was given a blimp background in the days prior to the 2010 and 2011 Kids' Choice Awards to match the award given out at the ceremony; beginning the week of September 7, 2010, the logo bug was surrounded by a splat design (in the manner of the logo used from 2005 to 2009) during new episodes of Nickelodeon original series. The new logo was adopted in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2010, in Spain on February 19, 2010, in Asia on March 15, 2010, in Latin America on April 5, 2010, and on the ABS-CBN block "Nickelodeon on ABS-CBN" in the Philippines on July 26, 2010. On November 2, 2009, a Canadian version of Nickelodeon was launched, in partnership between Viacom and Corus Entertainment (owners of YTV, which for years has aired and will continue to air Nickelodeon's series); as a result, versions of Nickelodeon now exist in most of North America.
In October 2009, Viacom brought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the Nickelodeon family when it purchased the franchise from Mirage Studios, with a new CGI-animated series and live action film released since then. On May 12, 2010, the network reached an agreement with Haim Saban to obtain rights to broadcast new episodes of Power Rangers (after Saban had repurchased rights to the franchise from The Walt Disney Company earlier that month). The network began airing the series starting with the February 7, 2011 debut of its 18th season, Power Rangers Samurai; as part of the deal, Nickelodeon also acquired the rights to all 700 episodes of the series produced prior to then for broadcast on sister network Nicktoons, which began airing the series later that year. On January 1, 2011, Nickelodeon debuted House of Anubis, a series based on the Nickelodeon Netherlands series Het Huis Anubis, which became the first original scripted series to be broadcast in a weekdaily strip (similar to the soap opera format). Produced in the United Kingdom, it was also the first original series by the flagship U.S. channel to be produced outside of North America.
2011 saw Nickelodeon's longtime ratings dominance among all children's cable channels began to topple: it was the highest-rated cable channel during the first half of that year, only for its viewership to experience a sharp double-digit decline by the end of 2011, described as "inexplicable" by Viacom management. The channel would not experience a calendar week ratings increase until November 2012 (with viewership slowly rebounding after that point due to stronger programming);  however its 17-year streak as the highest-rated cable network in total day viewership was broken by Disney Channel during that year. In the spring of 2013, Ubisoft and Nickelodeon partnered to develop a new animated series, Rabbids Invasion (based on the Raving Rabbids video game franchise), which premiered on August 3 of that year. On July 17, 2014, the night after ESPN held the similarly formatted ESPY Awards, the network televised the inaugural Kids' Choice Sports Awards, a spin-off of the Kids' Choice Awards that honors athletes and teams from the previous year in sports.
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