Double Dare Returns, But Kids TV Is Not What It Used To Be

Double Dare

Answer the question, or take the physical challenge? Kids who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s might be listening to their own children hear those words, if Nickelodeon’s announced return of Double Dare succeeds.

TV Guide:

Nickelodeon announced Wednesday that it’s reviving the iconic ’80s and ’90s kids’ game show Double Dare. The network has ordered 40 episodes of the series, to premiere in the summer.

Originally running (under various titles like Family Double Dare and Super Slimy Double Dare) from 1986 to 1993, the Marc Summers-hosted show had families compete at trivia and physical challenges before making it to the grand finale: running through a messy obstacle course that culminated in pulling a slimy snot-covered flag out of a giant disembodied nose. It ruled, which is why the revival will keep the format.

But more than nostalgia is behind such a move. Nickelodeon, long the king of Kids TV networks, is losing ratings, along with Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.

Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw reports kids-centered broadcast television, long a ratings stalwart, is hurting:

And the reason for that decline:Streaming

The cable networks for children, in decline for years, are now in a free fall. This season’s ratings for the 2-to-11 set are shaping up to be the worst yet. And few in the industry predict a turnaround.

The implications are enormous for giants like Viacom Inc. and Walt Disney Co. Viewership of the three most-popular networks for the very young — Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and the Cartoon Network — is down more than 20 percent this season from year earlier, according to data from Nielsen. It’s a low point in a long-running trend as Netflix Inc., YouTube and other streaming services have taken off.

Media companies still make money from children’s TV, with the most-watched cartoons spawning toy brands and licensing deals that can generate millions of dollars. So “the traditional brands are stuck in a tough position,” said Birk Rawlings, who left Nickelodeon to run DreamWorksTV, a kids media company that includes a YouTube channel. “They can see what is changing, but to embrace what’s new they must run away from a healthy business.”

It will be good for some to see an old friend, but the new ways of viewing kids programming are both posing tough questions and a physical challenge to broadcasters.

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13 thoughts on “Double Dare Returns, But Kids TV Is Not What It Used To Be

  1. I think this is all of a piece with larger shifts in TV programming due to streaming, right? Or is there an amplified effect with kids? Where does that graph fit against an average of Cable TV in general?

    Also I’m curious about how children’s tv on non-cable stations (the big 3 and PBS) is faring, comparatively.

    Also also, I’m curious about how Nielsen’s response rates are doing compared to 20 years ago. They actually wanted us to be a Nielsen family one year, and it was such a PITA that despite my initial enthusiasm, I didn’t end up sending in my surveys.

    (You don’t need to answer any of these questions, though if anyone has answers I’d love to hear them – just thinking out loud about the context for this…)

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  2. Yeah it’s about streaming. Even with kids, there’s a huge advantage to being able to watch your favorite show when it fits into the schedule. Fit them into your schedule, not fit your schedule into the cable lineup.

    Double Dare was awesome, and I think they could revive that show and make some money off it by streaming it. It’s just a question of when these guys decide they need to jump. Also, I don’t think a Nickelodeon streaming service, by itself, would probably have enough to justify a subscription. But it might, if they include back catalog.

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  3. When I was in elementary school in the mid-1980s, Saturday Morning Cartoons were a thing on all the major Network channels or so I remember. I also gradually remember it being reduced to only Fox and then not at all. Now I guess that most of it is dominated by Disney, Cartoon Network, Nick, and streaming.

    Streaming just changes things in general. I don’t watch much TV because I am an artsy snob but the TV I do watch can be done on my schedule and for minimal additional costs.

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    • I remember how huge Saturday Morning Cartoons were. I grew up in a pre-cable time – or rather, my parents didn’t get cable until I was well-on in college (or maybe even grad school), so having a few hours a week devoted to programming for kids (1) was important to my brother and me.

      I don’t have kids but I think a couple things are coming into play:

      1. On-demand streaming, as others have said
      2. YouTube. I know some people who have very heavily curated playlists for their kids and that’s what their kids can watch
      3. DVDs, though that may be declining some (my family didn’t have a VCR until I was in high school. I remember how you WAITED for things like the annual showing of “The Wizard of Oz” and woe betide you if you got in big enough trouble to have tv privileges revoked that week)
      4. Video games
      5. Kids’ sports becoming more prevalent with more practices – when I was a kid, it was maybe for an hour or two on a Saturday, but that was it. Now, I know some kids who have two or three day a week practices, plus games. Kids don’t have time.

      I dunno. I like cartoons and I watch mostly cartoons. I would be sad if all the cartoons aimed at kids went away. Don’t get me wrong – I like “Bob’s Burgers” but I love some of the kid-aimed cartoons and they are an escape for me.

      And I don’t have Netflix. Don’t me. I just can’t justify paying for it on top of the cable and internet. (Yes, I have cable. Would have zero tv reception, not even local channels, without it, and it usually stays on even when the internet is out)

      (1) there were a couple indie channels in our market – 43 and later 19 – that ran some cartoons during the weekdays and re-runs of things like 60s sitcoms after school, but there was no all-cartoon channel

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  4. I remember Double Dare and other programs from Nickelodeon when I was a kid. They used their cable niche to air things that you couldn’t do on normal America television like the relative risqué humor for kids of Canada’s You Can’t Do that on Television or only slightly edited French cartoons like the Mysterious Cities of Gold and Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea. There was also British stuff like Duckula and Danger Mouse. Kids knew that Nick was given them the good stuff and wasn’t going to do bland moralizing on them.

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  5. My boys almost exclusively watch streaming… mostly Netflix, some OnDemand. Zazzy also has some iPad apps (like PBS) that streams as well but I don’t know how that works.

    The benefits are multiple, including some high quality content (Octonauts are a particular fave) or overseas shows dubbed (like Super Wings), no commercials (the boys actually don’t even really know what a commercial is), accessibility, and some bite size shows that are just 12 nins long.

    Sometimes I worry about the instant gratification of a literal On Demand thing,, but we develop tech to make life bett e and I manage my inner curmudgeon by being selective about if/when they watch.

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