Kids Choice franchise studies abroad


COLOGNE, Germany -- On the 20th anniversary of its Kids Choice Awards show, Nickelodeon is launching local versions of the slime-heavy event in two of its most important international territories, Germany and the U.K.

The German Kids Choice Awards kicked off Thursday in Bottrop, site of the recently unveiled Nick Land amusement park. The U.K. show runs Saturday in London.

For Nickelodeon and parent Viacom, the shows are massive marketing events that serve both to boost the Nickelodeon brand locally and allow cross-promotion between the U.S. Nickelodeon channel and its global franchises.

The model is the MTV Music Awards, which Viacom has successfully spun off into European and Asian events that draw millions of viewers and millions more in promotion and ad dollars.

Like the international music nods, the Kids Choice shows in Germany and the U.K. will be focused on local talent -- rapper Burger Lars Dietrich and New Wave star Nena host the Bottrop show; U.K. teen idols McFly headline in London. But Nickelodeon also has flown in American kids stars including Devon Werkheiser of "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" and Josh Peck of "Drake & Josh."

"There is nothing like this in the U.K., a kid-powered event where the kids choose the nominees and the winners," said Howard Litton, managing director of Nick U.K. "We've had something like 3.5 million votes cast online for Saturday's show, which is just massive (for us)."

Litton calls the Kids Choice Awards, "the cherry on top" for Nick U.K., which has bypassed Turner-controlled channels to become the territory's number one buyer of kids-targeted advertising.

In Germany, where Nickelodeon just launched two years ago, it is hoped the Kids Choice Awards will help set the channel apart from market leaders Super RTL and public broadcaster Ki.Ka.

"We've already seen the effect in the months leading up to the event, especially online, where our platform has been very successful, on par with (Super RTL-owned)," Nick Germany boss Markus Andorfer said. "The 360 degree approach -- from online to local press to the live event and the TV broadcast -- has really convinced our sponsors and advertisers to get behind this."

Germany and the U.K. aren't the first international Kids Choice Awards. Brazil, Australia, Holland, Italy, Sweden and China all have local versions of the show.

But because of the size of the markets -- the two largest in Europe -- the success of the new shows will be closely watched by Nickelodeon and Viacom brass in New York.

For the local channels, the Kids Choice Awards are the most extensive, and expensive undertaking in their respective histories. As they step up on the stage this week, they are just hoping they don't get slimed.