When Nickelodeon launched its 90s TV tribute series in late July, its ratings on subsidiary network TeenNick saw a triple-digit uptick, rising 500% among 18- to 34-year-olds, according to Nickelodeon’s Nielsen numbers. The media company credits its decision to actually pay attention to its Twitter and Facebook followers for that spike.
“It was a listening exercise, and we reacted to it,” Keith Dawkins, senior vice president and general manager of Nicktoons and TeenNick, told us in an interview.
It all started when younger employees told network executives that they should bring back old-school programming, pointing out that there was a demand from Twitter and Facebook users.
At first, TeenNick broadcast four half-hour episodes between midnight and 2 a.m. on weeknights. Now 90s shows run every day from 10 p.m. to midnight.
The biggest challenge was branding the block as an “adult” series.
“Nickelodeon as an idea is a pivotal, iconic, emotional thing to that generation,” says Dawkins. “These were the shows of the generation.”
He’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the vintage block. For now, it’s a matter of seeing how ratings and viewer reactions shake out. Keeping up with loyal fans on Twitter and Facebook is a huge part of that, he says, as is getting those fans onto 90sAreAllThat.com. On the site, Nick fans can vote on what shows they want to see.
In coming weeks, TeenNick will have a better idea if the initial ratings are due to the shows’ novelty or a sustainable, winning business move. For now, Dawkins says the network isn’t focusing too much on monetizing programming by targeting advertisers. TeenNick first has to make sure the viewers are there to stay.
“We’re able to conduct research daily by going on social media,” he says. “That’s what started this journey, and that’s what will continue. Digital has led our experience, not followed it.”
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