Last October, Nick Jr. – a pay-TV network which billed itself as a “safe, educational place” for kids ages 2-6 – introduced its NickMom programming block, featuring references to genitalia, sex, drinking, and other inappropriate content. A year later, Nick Jr. is reaping what it sowed: plummeting viewership — and revenue.
On October 1st 2012, Nick Jr. launched “NickMom,” a two-hour block of programming which the network claimed would be a “new destination for all things funny, just for moms.” But most moms didn’t find the network’s content funny. Many who had relied on Nick Jr. as safe viewing for their children suddenly found their preschoolers and toddlers deluged with explicit profanity, references to sex, genitalia, and breasts, and snide, cynical attacks on children and families. The NickMom program Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, for example, featured lines like, “Remember how gross you feel [after giving birth]? Your milk comes in and your breasts are gigantic and there’s always someone pawing at them. And then you have to feed the baby,” along with skits about “Devil Baby” and “The Boob Boss.”
Parents were outraged by the network’s NickMom move. The PTC’s Facebook page was deluged with comments from parents horrified by the programming block’s sleazy content – and by the fact that many were paying a premium fee for Nick Jr. specifically so that their children would have something safe to watch, only for Nick to pull a monumental “bait-and-switch” on them. “I just want to thank NickMom for showing my 2½ year-old son a woman stripping with her shirt off. I had changed the channel to what I THOUGHT was safe programming for him. I didn’t wait for the channel to come up…only to walk back into the room moments later to the horror that was on TV,” one typical comment read.
And now a year later, Nick Jr. has paid the price for its decision to put sleazy sex jokes and foul language ahead of the interests of mothers and children. A recent report from media financial analysis firm SNL-Kagan showed that Nick Jr. has suffered a massive loss of both profits and viewers. The network is operating with a cash flow of negative 27% — meaning Nick Jr.’s corporate owner Viacom (which also owns MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and several other cable networks) is taking a loss on the entire Nick Jr. network. SNL-Kagan added that Nick Jr.’s performance is “the worst among the rated cable networks,” and that “much of the ratings slide is attributed to the controversy around NickMom, the racy adult programming block that led to angry parents boycotting the network and complaining to advertisers.” Kagan also reports that Nick Jr.’s prime-time rating this August was 29; back in 2011, before the NickMom debacle, the network enjoyed a prime-time rating of 73.
That Nick Jr. lost money and viewers as a result of its decision to push filth on its paying customers comes as no surprise. Some parents were so fed up with the introduction of NickMom that they threatened a year ago to boycott Nick Jr., and switch to watching the Disney Junior network instead: “Thank goodness for Disney. Guess what, Nick? Now we will start watching Disney Junior. Which means we will be buying lots of Disney toys, and Disney movies, and Disney clothes. So long, Nick Jr.” said one parent to the PTC.
And that’s exactly what happened. In March, The New York Times reported that Disney Junior was crushing its rival Nick Jr., stating that “Nick Jr. ratings have plummeted more than 50 percent, according to Nielsen…[Disney] beat its rival, even though Nick Jr. is available in 75 million homes, 25 percent more than Disney Junior.” As a result of its humiliating defeat, Viacom is doing its utmost to downplay the disaster, with one spokesman dismissively shrugging that Nick Jr. is “an ancillary service.”
In the entertainment industry, saving face means never admitting that pushing graphic content at families and kids is a bad idea. But make no mistake – the folks at Nick Jr. now know it all too well.
We at the PTC congratulate our members for standing up against NickMom’s anti-family content, and for sending the network a clear message by hitting them where it really hurts – the pocketbook.