Competition Nick’d

Cabler beats Big 3 for kids' Sunday ratings

NEW YORK — A special Sunday primetime run of Nickelodeon’s preschool show “Blue’s Clues” topped fierce competition from Michael Jordan, Bart Simpson and “The Wonderful World of Disney” in the kids 2-11 rating.

“Blue’s Clues” averaged a 6.3 national rating (2.5 million viewers) from 8-8:30 p.m. among kids 2-11 on Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Nick special beat all its time-period competition, including ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” (4.5 rating/1.8 million viewers), the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz on NBC (4.2 rating/1/7 million viewers), “The Simpsons” on Fox (2.9 rating/1.1 million viewers) and “Touched by an Angel” on CBS (1.3 rating/520,00 viewers).

Nickelodeon is the only cable network that uses national Nielsen ratings to measure its viewership. Because Nick is limited by cable and satellite distribution, 25% of U.S. households cannot receive the channel.

“Beating Michael Jordan in the eyes and hearts of 2- to 11-year-olds is pretty hot stuff,” said Brown Johnson, senior VP of Nick Jr., Nickelodeon’s preschool block.

“Blue’s Clues,” now the No. 1-rated preschool show ahead of PBS’ “Sesame Street” and “Barney,” averages about a 4.0 rating in kids 2-11 in the show’s normal weekday timeslots at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Nick also runs the educational series at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In its core 2- to 5-year-old viewership, “Blues Clues” averages a 10 rating/40 share, Johnson said.

By running “Blue’s Clues” in primetime, Nickelodeon gave up ad revenue because the kids network has a policy of not carrying ads during its pre-school shows, just at the top and bottom of the hour.

Brown said the purpose of the primetime special — an episode that celebrated the birthday of Blue, an animated dog — was to build viewership for the series.

“We want to make sure parents see how their kids watch ‘Blue’s Clues’ compared to how they watch other preschool shows,” Brown said.

The special also had a business function for Nickelodeon. Three Nick advertisers — FAO Schwarz, Subway and Mott — all participated in separate promotions that plugged the “Blue’ Clues” primetime special.

According to Johnson, all three promotions produced excellent results. More than 7,000 people, including 4,000 preschoolers, showed up June 14 at FAO Schwarz to meet “Blue’s Clues” host Steve Burns and buy a new line of “Blue’s “Clues” products. The toy store said it was the most successful product launch in its history.