Kids Stick WIth TV, But Nickelodeon's Numbers Still Down

Dora-the-Explorer-A2Despite growing use of new tablet and other devices, one Wall Street media analyst believes total kids' viewing continues to climb on traditional TV.

In looking at 8.5 million set-top-box data homes, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst of Pivotal Research Group, says, "total ratings across the entire group of kids-focused TV networks have been up by mid-single digits in most months since last November."

He adds: "Kids have not abandoned TV for new video platforms."

All the findings point to some good and bad news for Viacom's big Nickelodeon kids' cable network which, for some, mysteriously witnessed a drop in Nielsen rating by up to 20% starting last fall. Early on, Viacom's executives explained that kids' TV set-top-box viewership data -- when it came to Nickelodeon -- conflicted with viewership data from Nielsen.

That said, Wieser adds: "From our analysis, we believe that problems at Nick must be due to programming issues and competition, with little to do with childrens’ viewing habits on new devices and platforms."

He concludes that there isn't evidence that online video or Netflix impacts traditional TV viewing, and that the ratings drops at Nickelodeon are still real. Set-top box data provides more detail on Nick's competition.

Nickelodeon’s domestic programming generated around $900 million in advertising revenue in 2011 -- a big chunk of the nearly $5 billion total advertising at Viacom networks around the world, says Wieser.

"This revenue base has eroded substantially since that time, and is the primary driver of the company’s domestic underperformance," he says. "We expect this underperformance to continue for several quarters to come, including a 6% decline in advertising revenue."

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