Since its launch as The Pinwheel Network in 1977, Nickelodeon has been one of the top American children’s channels. Nickelodeon, often known more simply as Nick, is sometimes called “The First Kids’ Network” for its innovative approach to children’s television. With morning programming aimed at preschoolers ages 2-6 and afternoon programming intended for preteens, the channel is able to meet the needs of all children during its daily broadcasts.
Before being called Nickelodeon, The Pinwheel Network was launched in on the Columbus, Ohio, cable system known as QUBE. This channel only lasted for two years before it was re-launched in 1979, widely considered the beginning of Nickelodeon. The new, commercial-free channel began on a Warner Cable system in Buffalo, New York, before slowly spreading across the country.
Originally airing only during the typical broadcast day, Nickelodeon began to evolve around 1983. At this time, the channel started using corporate underwriting to fund its programs. Even with this change in funding, Nickelodeon struggled with ratings and successful programs, losing $10 million by 1984. The creators of MTV’s most successful programs, Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman, were hired to reinvigorate the channel that year. The pair hired a new advertising agency that created the “orange splat” logo with white font that would become an iconic representation of the station. About the same time, Nickelodeon began using traditional advertising, and the new nighttime block of programming, Nick at Nite, made the channel a 24-hour service.
Viacom bought Nickelodeon in 1986, and just two years later, Nick Jr. was created as its own channel as a replacement for Nickelodeon’s Pinwheel preschool block. In the early 1990s, the channel began developing its own animated series, including “Doug” and “Rugrats.” In May 1999, the extremely popular animated series “Spongebob SquarePants” debuted to the network’s highest ratings.
In 1992, the channel created a Saturday primetime block of programming called SNICK and intended for a preteen audience. By 2004, this block was reformatted into a Saturday evening set renamed TEENick, which became its own channel a few years later. In addition to the original animated series on Nickelodeon, the channel began producing scripted live-action shows aimed at preteens. The popular sketch comedy show “All That” ran for many years on the station, launching the careers of several actors.
Nickelodeon joined forces with Sony Music in 2007 in a contract to develop music-themed series for the channel that would release radio singles in conjunction with the programming. Two years later, Nickelodeon announced that Nick Jr. and TeenNick would become their own channels under the Nickelodeon brand. At the same time, the channel unveiled its first new logo in nearly 25 years.
Top Nickelodeon Shows
Preschool programming, known as Play Date, airs on Nickelodeon on Monday through Friday mornings while older children are at school. The shows on this channel vary frequently. The most popular shows during this block of programming include:
1. “Dora the Explorer” – A revolutionary preschool program in which a young Hispanic girl goes on adventures with her monkey friend, Boots, and her talking backpack and map, Dora teaches Spanish to English-speaking children.
2. “The Fresh Beat Band” – Four friends in music school spend a great day working and playing together, all while singing and dancing with their band.
3. “Team Umizoomi” – Used to teach young children basic math and logically reasoning principles, a young boy and girl work with their robot friend, Bot, to solve puzzles and riddles.
Nickelodeon typically runs new episodes of its original series on Friday nights, Saturday mornings, Saturday nights, and Sunday nights. This block of programming is sometimes called A Night of Premieres. Some of the top shows that premiere during this time include:
1. “iCarly” – Young teenager Carly lives with her older brother and produces her own webcasts from her home with the help of her best friend, Sam.
2. “Big Time Rush” – Filled with musical performances, this show is a look at the lives of four members of a boy band as they try to find success in the music industry.
3. “SpongeBob SquarePants” – An animated talking and clothes-wearing sea sponge interacts with his undersea friends, including Patrick the starfish, in the underwater community of Bikini Bottom.
The Nickelodeon channel is available in most satellite and cable packages.