NEW YORK — Nickelodeon and CTW (Children’s Television Workshop) have set up a joint venture to create a new cable network called Noggin aimed at kids 2 to 11.
Sources say the two companies will announce the partnership today, timed to make an impact at the National Cable Show, which runs from May 3-6 in Atlanta. Spokesmen for Nickelodeon and CTW declined to comment on the venture.
Noggin will become the outlet for reruns of CTW’s signature series “Sesame Street,” as well as “3-2-1 Contact,” the science-and-technology series for 8- to 11-year- olds, according to sources. The network will also draw on Nickelodeon’s programming library, including reruns of shows that now play on Nick Jr. during the day.
“It’ll be an educational channel, but not in a dry classroom sense,” says one outside source familiar with the planning for Noggin.
Nickelodeon drew up the first blueprints for Noggin a few years ago, as a teacher-friendly network that cable operators could use to chalk up lots of brownie points in their communities.
But one problem was that Nickelodeon would’ve had to buy lots of the product, because it didn’t want to cannibalize the programming on its Nick Jr. slate of educational-type programs that run during school hours.
At the National Cable Show in New Orleans in March 1997, Nickelodeon began floating the concept of Noggin, although at that time without the confirmed participation of CTW, which had tried and failed to launch a network called Kid City.
But Nickelodeon had its hands full at the time lining up cable operators for Nick At Nite’s TV Land, a channel with far more promise of commercial success than an educational kids network.
But with the Disney Channel’s new spinoff network Toon Disney starting to pull in cable operators since it kicked off April 18, Nickelodeon decided to resuscitate Noggin.
Nick will market Noggin to cable operators looking for new networks to place on digital programming tiers that will develop as cable systems expand their channel capacity over the next few years.
But with high-visibility programming like “Sesame Street,” Nick may also get some operators to put Noggin on expanded basic with all of the mass-circulation cable networks.