About 15 years ago, Disney Channel was home to Avonlea. Today it’s home to some of the biggest and most profitable teen idols of this generation!
While I’m outside the target demo for Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, I’m sure they welcome kids of all ages right? Plus, when you’ve got little nieces and nephews and cousins running around (or not depending on what’s on the TV), you can’t help but get sucked in, good or bad.
So while Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers may get little girls’ hearts racing, for an old guy like me if I want rewind a couple of years I’ll turn to Nickelodeon first.
As an adult (more or less), I see the machine driving the nuDisney Channel. (The four years of Media Studies at university are pretty eye-opening too.)
Gone are the days of simple Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens. Even the short lived Flash Forward (no, not that one, the other one, starring then-newbies Ben Foster and Jewel Staite! Remember that one?). Today it’s all about the big bucks, the merchandise, the 3-D concerts. Part of that is probably thanks to the shocking marketing behemoth High School Musical which ushered in this nuDisney Channel era.
So where did that leave Nickelodeon? Spongebob Squarepants was Nickelodeon’s last standing. Britney Spears’ little sister had a show doing okay… until she got pregnant. That and a string of other shows, including one with Julia Roberts’ niece came and went. Dreamworks’ Penguins of Madagascar proved to be a bit hit though, but would Nickelodeon be able to find some live action success?
Last year, the network put on its attempt to capture the High School Musical magic, Spectacular. Pre-dating Glee by a couple of months, Spectacular was about a lowly high school show choir, the politics and drama behind it, and the energy that gets injected into the group when a wannabe rocker joins. Romance ensues of course. While more refreshing and far less saccharine than the Disney franchise and with less annoying music, the movie got average audiences at best. Oh well.
But then comes iCarly. Though not Nickelodeon’s direct answer to Hannah Montana, it jumped to the top of the cable ratings charts and finally Nickelodeon had something to get excited about. The positive vibes continued with Tru Jackson, VP, Canadian co-prod The Troop and the latest addition Big Time Rush.
Saturday night used to be the pre-teen destination. I remember when Nickelodeon’s SNICK block was in full force. And while those days are over, Nickelodeon can at least be satisfied in four shows they can be happy about.
Now watching these shows for the first time, I was amazed at how much physical, outrageous comedy there was, especially on iCarly and Tru Jackson. Then I realized, hey, I’m not the target audience. But then again, today’s young audience is so much more sophisticated. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.
They’ve toned that stuff down from what I’ve seen, but it strikes me when I hear references to NBC’s programming troubles and countless jokes about boobs. Yeah, boobs, breasts. An episode featured one of the main characters holding those silicone bra inserts.
That’s when I knew this audience wouldn’t have gone for Alex Mack or Good Burger.
But for today’s young audiences, this seems to be the norm. At the very least, Nickelodeon is not as market driven and money hungry as Disney is, which right now is just milking every single drop from their content. For now, Nickelodeon is trying to build itself to a point when they too can do the same.
Do any of these shows catch your fancy? And would you have your kids or nieces/nephews, little siblings watch them?
iCarly about a teen girl running a popular web comedy show, Tru Jackson, VP about a teen girl who gets hired as the vice president of the youth apparel division of a major fashion company, The Troop about teens fighting monsters, and Big Time Rush about four best friends from Minnesota who get whisked off to Hollywood to be launched as the next big boy band.
It is definitely a lot easier for older audiences to watch shows on Nickelodeon. I feel like they acknowledge the intelligence of their audience more than Disney Channel shows do. That and I don’t feel like I’m being told to buy blankets with teen idol faces on them.
Have a kid who loves these shows? Or want to check ’em out yourself? Preview and download full episodes and (gasp!) full MP3 songs! at Amazon or on iTunes:
BIG TIME RUSH
Full Episodes: Amazon.com or
MP3 Downloads: Amazon.com or
DVD: Big Time Break