After a particularly painful ratings drop-off, Nickelodeon is turning things around. The cable network has always controlled the lion's share of the GRPs in the kids' TV market (more than 70 percent of all kids' TV budgets, in fact), and it's returning to business as usual with what sources say is about a 5 percent uptick in CPM rates for the current upfront. That's in keeping with most of cable, though broadcast this year has turned out to be flat to down as networks scramble to cover their losses after a year of terrible ratings across the board.
Nick's Jim Perry is particularly bullish on video games—no surprise in a year when both Sony and Microsoft are debuting new consoles. Perry also thinks CPG "bottomed out a year ago as all the people in the kids' space either reformulated (to meet new in-house standards at Disney) or moved skews away from kids and toward moms." Nick's own partnership with Bird's Eye, a frozen-foods maker that focuses on health, is indicative of the industry-wide change; the switch-up has diminished the presence of some food manufacturers (particularly those who rely on sugary snacks or cereals). Perry, in an interview with Adweek, said that at Nick, most of them have supplemented the shortfall with foods advertised more directly to moms—which is really the only way they're supposed to be advertised in the first place—but not everyone in the market has had that experience.
That network and its competitors continue to push live viewing with event programming—Nick's Kids Choice Awards have attracted a lot of attention from Tide, in particular; and its Worldwide Day of Play has buys from the Burlington Coat Factory, among others.
Perry also says the toy category is on its way up again—much of that is to do with the preponderance of licensed toys hitting the shelves during a year with half a dozen superhero movies drawing kids to the theaters and manufacturers like Lego buying licenses from big-ticket entertainment properties including some of Nick's own (the Ninja Turtles, Spongebob, etc.). Toys are perpetually in crisis, these days: kids prefer video games, and new gadgets like the ever-increasing kids' tablet category are plenty interesting to both tykes and parents looking to keep kids quiet, rather than active.