Nickelodeon Betting on Preschoolers to Reverse Ratings Slide

Nickelodeon unveiling six new programs aimed at tots, including "Peter Rabbit" and "Monsters vs. Aliens"

Last Updated: January 31, 2013 @ 7:27 AM

Nickelodeon is tying its future to the birth rate.

Philippe Dauman, chief executive officer of the network's parent company Viacom, told analysts Thursday that he is pouring resources into improving content geared at pre-school audiences. Those discerning tykes can look forward to six new original programs geared at their demographic including "Monsters vs. Aliens," a new show based on the 2009 film from DreamWorks Animation. The company also plans to make "Peter Rabbit," which it debuted last year as a special holiday event, a programming mainstay.

Dauman said the company was hitting a "generational reset button" and was hoping to refine its programming for a "post-Millennial generation."

"We have a generational shift and we want to capture that preschool audience so they grow with us," Dauman said. 

The company is also trying to reverse a ratings slide that has battered its stock and balance sheet. Revenue in Viacom's television networks division, a unit that also includes MTV and Comedy Central, dropped 2 percent to $2.39 billion during its most recent financial quarter. Dauman attributed that slide to lower advertising revenue due entirely to declines in the Nickelodeon group.

Ratings at Nickelodeon have improved in recent months thanks to the success of new programs like the rebooted "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise, but the company has still not patched up the damage from last season when the children's network suffered a 28 percent free fall in ratings among the key demographic of children ages 2 to 11.

In addition to the new investment in content, Dauman said Viacom is putting money into technology. Nickelodeon will debut a spiffy app in the near future, the CEO said, although he did not offer many details.

"It’s quite innovate… it will allow us to really grow in the future," was all Dauman would say.

We're guessing it's toddler friendly.