Viacom, Nielsen Investigating 'Inexplicable' Nickelodeon Ratings Drop??

SpongeBob Squarepants - cartoon still - 2010
Courtesy of Nickelodeon

??Following an unusual double-digit decline in viewership at the kids network in mid-September, CEO Philippe Dauman says the two firms are "investigating this aberration" to "understand and rectify" the situation.

?NEW YORK - Viacom is investigating, together with TV ratings firm Nielsen, a sudden mid-September ratings drop at kids network Nickelodeon, CEO Philippe Dauman told analysts Thursday.??

On his company's quarterly earnings call, he described the 15 percent-20 percent ratings decline as "inexplicable" given what have typically been "very predictable" ratings at Nickelodeon. Dauman said the two firms are "investigating this aberration," which he also called an "anomaly," to "understand and rectify" the situation.??

Both companies have also brought in the Media Rating Council to probe the issue, with Dauman adding that independent set-top-box data shows "meaningfully different viewership trends."??

The timing of the declines was "unfortunate," Dauman said, highlighting that it came at a time when toy companies and other advertisers step up marketing as they go into the holiday season. But he emphasized that he expects this to be only a temporary issue. The total company impact of the Nickelodeon ratings issue "is a little blip in the quarter," even though it is holding back ad growth at the company and could mean it will miss its double digit ad revenue growth goal for the current quarter, he added. 

At the same time, Nickelodeon, which Dauman emphasized is the number one cable network for 66 quarters running, is introducing a slew of fresh animated and live-action content into the network's pipeline. Over the next 12 months, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other shows will give Nickelodeon 500 original episodes, its most ever, Dauman said.?


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