Preteens Watch More TV This Fall, But Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network Drop

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Viewership by kids ages 2-11 is up 1.7 percent season-to-date, but Viacom’s and Time Warner’s kids networks have slipped in the ratings.

NEW YORK – More preteen children have been watching TV so far this fall season, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from TV ratings firm Nielsen.

But it highlighted that Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network have seen ratings declines among children between the ages of two and 11, while Walt Disney’s networks have shown diverging trends.

The Journal said that the data shows an accelerating decline at Nickelodeon in recent weeks, raising questions about Viacom's recent suggestion that a glitch caused a sharp drop in fall ratings for Nickelodeon.

For the TV season through Nov. 20, an average of 5.8 million kids 2-11 have been watching TV, including broadcast and cable - live and recorded TV, the Journal cited Nielsen data as showing. That is up 1.7 percent from a year earlier. Slightly fewer preteens are watching TV during the day, and more are watching non-kids networks, the Journal said.

For Nickelodeon, Nielsen's data shows that 969,000 kids between the ages of two and 11 watched in September, down 11 percent from the year-ago period. But the data shows a 17 percent drop for October, and a 19 percent decline in the first three weeks of November.

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman during his company’s latest earnings conference call said the ratings drop since September has been "inexplicable" and that it has been working with Nielsen to explain it.

Nielsen in a statement told the Journal that "the review process confirms that our measurement methodology, operations and related reporting processes are working as expected."

The Media Rating Council, which has been working with the two parties, said it expects to complete its work by early December, but plans to release its findings only to Nielsen and Viacom.

Meanwhile, Cartoon Network averaged 479,000 preteen viewers between Aug. 29 and Nov. 20, down 12 percent from the year-ago period, the Journal said. A Cartoon Network spokesman pointed to a year-ago ratings boost from a movie.

Walt Disney’s Disney XD averaged 149,000 in the period, down 1 percent, but its Disney Channel has drawn an average of  924,000, up 5.9 percent.

The Hub, a joint venture channel of Hasbro and Discovery Communications, said its audience among kids 2-11 rose more than 50 percent to 46,000 compared with the year-ago period.


Twitter: @georgszalai