Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just For Me: An Exploration of Nickelodeon, TV’s First Network for Kids part I

It’s a fact: children love television. According to Neilson research, the average American child between ages 2-17 will spend about 19 hours and forty minutes in front of the TV screen per week. Approximately 99% of American families own at least one television – 50% own at least three – and 45% of parents say they use TV to occupy their child when they’re too busy. Likewise, 54% of 4-6 year olds say they would rather watch TV than spend time with their parents. 56% of children ages 8-16 have a TV in their bedroom.

It’s a fact: television loves children. In one year alone, the average American child will have seen over 40,000 TV commercials selling a vast array of products. Advertisers spend approximately $1.3 billion on ads directed at young children per year, and almost 97% of American children age six and under own products based on characters from TV shows. In fact, most kids can develop brand loyalty by age 2!

So what do these numbers mean? It is clear that television plays a huge role in the social development of the modern American child, but how does this happen? Who controls it? What makes TV safe for kids?

This next post series will explore the history of Nickelodeon, the number one television network for children, and show how kids went from being completely ignored to the most desirable demographic in all of TV. They will argue that the formation of Nickelodeon in 1979 was crucial to the advent of cable, and will establish that through branding, animation, and other progressive programming, Nickelodeon managed to create a ‘quality’ television environment for children, approved by parents: the perfect example of positive corporate branding on cable TV.

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