This article is devoted to the history of the cable channel Nickelodeon.
Prior to Nickelodeon's creation, most preschoolers programs were very limited, especially to preschoolers, because they could only tune into their favorite shows on Saturday mornings. Preschoolers on the other hand, not only had Saturday mornings to watch their favorite shows, but weekdays too, because they would watch Sesame Street. For preschoolers and grown-ups in Columbus, Ohio, they had a new television system called QUBE.xx
Pinwheel/First Era/Silver Ball Era (1979–84)
Pinwheel was re-launched as Nickelodeon on April 1, 1979 and despite its prior history on the QUBE system under the Pinwheel name, Nickelodeon has declared 1979 as the network's official launch year. It began airing on various Warner Cable systems, beginning in Buffalo, New York and quickly expanded its audience reach. Shows airing during its broadcast day which initially ran from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. ET on weekends included Video Comic Book, Pop Clips and the long-running Pinwheel now formatted as a daily hour-long series that ran in a 3-5 hour block format, and was a precursor to the Nick Jr. block, along with other shows such as America Goes Bananaz, Nickel Flicks and By the Way. In 1980, new shows were added to the lineup, including Dusty's Treehouse, First Row Features, Special Delivery, What Will They Think Of Next?, Livewire, and Hocus Focus. Also in the same year, Video Comic Book was renamed to Video Comicz.
The network's first logo had a mime looking into a Nickelodeon machine that was placed in the N. In between programs, the filler would be a mime, and the mime would turn the crank on the Nickelodeon as soon as the next program was about to start. The mime would do skits to "Music, Music, Music". The second logo had the word "Nickelodeon" in Pinwheel's logo font. The third logo was a silver pinball with the "Nickelodeon" title in multicolor. Nickelodeon's first popular series was You Can't Do That On Television, a Canadian sketch comedy that made its American debut on Nickelodeon in late 1981. On April 12, 1981, the channel extended its hours from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. ET by turning its channel over to the Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) and, later until 1985, A&E Network after ARTS merged with NBC's struggling cable service The Entertainment Channel. In 1983, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment began divesting its assets and spun off Nickelodeon and two other channels, MTV and the now-defunct Radio Television Station (RTS) into the newly-formed subsidiary MTV Networks. After a while the network became known for its iconic green slime, originally featured in You Can't Do That on Television. The green slime was then adopted by the channel as a primary feature of many of its shows, including Double Dare. In the early years, other shows such as Livewire, Standby: Lights, Camera, Action, The Third Eye and Mr. Wizard's World were part of the regular Nickelodeon time slots.
First Splat Era (1984-93)
The channel struggled at first, having lost $4 million by 1984, and finishing dead last among the cable channels. After firing the previous staff, MTV Networks president Bob Pittman turned to Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman, who created MTV's iconic IDs a few years earlier, to reinvigorate Nickelodeon. Seibert and Goodman's company, Fred/Alan, teamed up with Tom Corey and Scott Nash of the advertising firm Corey McPherson Nash to replace the "Pinball" logo with the "orange splat" logo with the name Nickelodeon written in Balloon font, that would be used in hundreds of different variations for the next quarter century. Fred/Alan also enlisted the help of animators, writers, producers and doo-wop group The Jive Five to create new channel IDs. Within six months of the rebranding, Nickelodeon would become the dominant channel in children programming and has remained so for more than 25 years, even in the midst of increasing competition in recent years from other kids-oriented cable channels such as Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. In 1994, Nickelodeon launched The Big Help, which spawned a spinoff program The Big Green Help in 2007; the point of the program is to change yourself and the earth by exercising and protecting the environment to show a difference to the earth.
In January 1985, after A&E dropped its partnership with Nickelodeon and became its own 24-hour channel, Nickelodeon simply went to a test screen after sign-off. That July, Nickelodeon added a new nighttime block called Nick at Nite, and became a 24-hour a day service. That same year, American Express sold their stake in Warner-Amex to Warner Communications and was renamed Warner Cable; by 1986, Warner Cable turned MTV Networks into a private company, and sold MTV, RTS and Nickelodeon to Viacom for $685 million. In 1988, Nick aired the first annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards (previously known as The Big Ballot) and introduced Nick Jr., an educational block for younger children around preschool age.
By October 1990, Nickelodeon was seen in 52 million homes across the United States. In 1990, Nickelodeon opened Nickelodeon Studios, a television studio/attraction at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando which many of its sitcoms and game shows were filmed and entered into a multimillion-dollar joint marketing agreement with international restaurant chain Pizza Hut, which involved launching Nickelodeon Magazine, available for free at participating Pizza Hut restaurants. In 1991, for the first time, Nickelodeon developed its first three cartoons, Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show. These series, known as Nicktoons, premiered on August 11, 1991. The network had previously refused to produce weekly animated series due to high cost. The three Nickelodeon cartoons found success by 1993, while in mid-1993, Nickelodeon developed its fourth Nicktoon, Rocko's Modern Life, which was also a success along with the three other Nicktoons. Later, Nickelodeon partnered with Sony Wonder and released top selling video cassettes of the show's programming.
By 1994, Doug was cancelled on January 2, 1994, Rugrats was in a production hiatus, but Rocko's Modern Life and Ren and Stimpy were still in production and airing. In 1996, Nickelodeon developed two new Nicktoons, Hey Arnold! and KaBlam! which would take the place of Rocko's Modern Life and Ren and Stimpy since they would both end production about that time, but still would air reruns up until about 2001. Rugrats, on the other hand, returned from hiatus on May 9, 1997 (reruns continued to air up until that point). In 1998, The Rugrats Movie came out. The movie grossed more than $100 million in the United States and became the first highest-grossing Nickelodeon film to never be produced by Touchstone Pictures banner to ever earn that much.
Frame Era (1993-2004)
One of the many variants of the orange logo, commonly known for the "splat" design, used from Autumn 1984 to September 27, 2009; this particular version was used as the main logo from 2006 to September 27, 2009; this logo is still used on newer products in tandem with the current logo.
In August 1992, the channel extended its Saturday schedule to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET with the launch of a primetime block called SNICK, which was home to shows such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Clarissa Explains It All, The Amanda Show and Kenan & Kel. In 2004, the block was reformatted as the Saturday edition of TEENick (which originally debuted on Sunday evenings in 2000), and the Saturday night block continues today without a name (the TEENick branding, with its spelling altered to TeenNick, has since been used on the Nicklelodeon sister channel previously known as The N).
In June 1993, Nickelodeon resumed its magazine brand, Nickelodeon Magazine.
In 1994, Nickelodeon removed You Can't Do That on Television from its schedule after thirteen years, and by the same year the network had launched a new sketch comedy show, All That. For many years, until its cancellation in 2005, All That would launch the careers of many actors and actresses including Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes, and Jamie Lynn Spears. The show's executive producer, Dan Schneider, would go on to create and produce several hit series for Nickelodeon including The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly and Victorious, among others.
Around 1993, Nickelodeon began using types of bumpers which feature clips of the shows airing on Nickelodeon at the time in a type of frame with bizarre pictures on it and a bouncing Nickelodeon ball.
In October and December 1994, Nickelodeon sold Halloween and Christmas themed episodes of its Nicktoons through syndication to local markets across the United States, with then-new former corporate relative, Paramount Domestic Television (now CBS Television Distribution).
In October 1995, Nickelodeon ventured in the World Wide Web and launched Nick.com. Initially the website was available only using America Online's internet service, but was later available to all internet service providers. The website's popularity grew and in March 1999, Nick.com became the highest-rated website aimed at children aged 6–14 years old. Nickelodeon used the website in conjunction with television programs which increased traffic. In 2001, Nickelodeon partnered with Networks Inc. to provide broadband video games for rent from Nick.com. The move was a further step in the multimedia direction that the developers wanted to take the website. Skagerlind indicated that over 50% of Nick.com's audience are using a high speed connection which allows them to expand the gaming options on the website. To accompany the broadband content, TurboNick was created. Initially it was a popup panel which showcased broadband content on Nick.com.
In March 2004, Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite were split up in the Nielsen primetime and total day ratings, due to the different programming, advertisers and target audiences between the two services; this caused controversy by cable executives believing this manipulated the ratings, given that Nick at Nite's broadcast day takes up only a fraction of Nickelodeon's programming schedule. Nickelodeon's and Nick at Nite's respective ratings periods encompasses only the hours they each operate under the total day rankings, though Nickelodeon only is rated for the daytime ratings; this is due to a ruling by Nielsen in July 2004, that networks have program for 51% or more of a daypart to qualify for ratings for a particular daypart.
Nickelodeon Studios closed down in 2005 and was converted into the Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre in 2007; Nickelodeon now tapes its live-action series at the Nickelodeon On Sunset studios (formerly the Earl Carroll Theatre) in Hollywood, California and other studio locations in Hollywood and other areas. In 2007, Nickelodeon began a four-year development deal with Sony Music to produce music-themed series for the channel, help fund and launch albums in conjunction with the label tied to Nickelodeon shows and produce original songs for the programs to be released as singles as result; the only series produced under the partnership that was greenlit as a series, Victorious debuted in 2010, though a similar hit music-themed sitcom, Big Time Rush that debuted the same year features a similar partnership with Columbia Records, though with Columbia only being involved with the show's music, Sony Music became involved with that show's production midway through its first season. Big Time Rush soon, after less than a month on the air, became a hit series, garnering 6.8 million viewers for its debut on January 18, 2010, and setting a new record for highest-rated live-action series premiere in the network's history.
The rebranded Nickelodeon, creating the new identity, logos, and the look and feel. In addition to creating the new Nickelodeon corporate logo, he created a whole new logo system to represent the company’s entire family of sub-brands (These include: Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Teenick, Nick@Nite, etc.). Though it is mainly a wordmark, during the days prior to the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards, the logo bug was given a blimp background to match the award given out at the show; and beginning the week of 7 September 2010 the logo was formed by a splat design (a la the 2006-2009 logo) in the on-screen program bug during new episodes of its original series. The new logo was adopted in the UK on 15 February 2010, in Spain on 19 February 2010, in Asia on 15 March 2010 and in Latin America on 5 April 2010. The "Nick on TV5" block on TV5 in the Philippines adopted the rebranded logo on 1 May 2010 together with the new TV5 logo.
On November 2, 2009, a Canadian version of Nickelodeon was launched, in partnership between Viacom and Corus Entertainment (owners of YTV, which has aired Nick shows for several years, and will continue to do so); as a result, versions of Nickelodeon now exist in most of North America.
On May 12, 2010, after an agreement was reached between Haim Saban (who earlier that month had bought back rights to the franchise from The Walt Disney Company) and MTV Networks, Nickelodeon announced that it had purchased the television rights to the Power Rangers franchise, and the series is slated to resume production for an eighteenth season scheduled to debut on Nickelodeon starting sometime in 2011; as part of the deal, Nickelodeon also plans to air the existing 700 episode catalog of the series on the Nicktoons cable channel in the later part of 2010.
On July 11, 2012, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, and Nicktoons were removed from DirecTV after a disagreement between Viacom and DirecTV because Viacom wanted 30% more money from DirecTV. By July 20, the companies reached an agreement and the channels were made available later that day.
On July 17, 2014, the night after ESPN held the similarly formatted ESPY Awards, the network televised the inaugural Kids' Choice Sports Awards, a spin-off of the Kids' Choice Awards that honors athletes and teams from the previous year in sports.
From 2016-present, feature-length films of old shows are coming to the network as part of Nickelodeon's efforts to revive its old shows.
Another disagreement between Viacom and No. 2 U.S. cable company Charter Communication's Spectrum resulted recently in the decision of the TV provider dropping all the Viacom channels (including the Nickelodeon ones; 23 channels in total) on October 15, 2017. Current advertisments including one for every channel, and stars (like Lincoln Loud), inform the Spectrum viewers to call it or go to keepviacom.com, to help not losing their channels. Also, a Spectrum site claims on their perspective, that "by threatening to pull their channels, Viacom is dragging you into the middle of their business negotiations."