Nick beefs up programming staff

Ward to oversee buying of off-network sitcoms

Nick at Nite, on a roll with its best young-adult primetime ratings in two years, has beefed up its programming staff, putting MTV veteran Paul Ward in charge of buying off-network sitcoms.

In his newly created post as exec VP of primetime acquisitions and strategy for Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids & Family Group, Ward will handle not only programming buys but on-air promos and ad sales for the group.

Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids & Family Group, said Ward is a good fit for Nick at Nite because he helped put Nick’s TV Land sibling network on the air in 1996. He has shifted between TV Land and Nick at Nite since 1999, rising to senior VP of communications for TV Land.

Ward’s job will be to find more reruns of family comedies for Nick at Nite’s primetime and latenight schedules to keep its Nielsen momentum going. In the second quarter, Nick at Nite has risen by double digits in total viewers and adults 18-49 compared with the same period in 2007, driven by double runs back to back of “The George Lopez Show” and “Home Improvement” each night.

These numbers have generated ad revenue increases of more than 20% for Nick at Nite during the upfront selling season, which wraps up in the next week or two.