Nickelodeon’s Mobile Plans Include 20 New Apps In 2010

Nickelodeon said it will double its efforts in mobile this year, bringing the number of applications it has rolled out in the space to 40 since launching its first in February last year.
In that time frame, Nickelodeon fans have downloaded 4.5 million iPhone apps with the bulk of them occurring in the past six to seven months, said Steve Youngwood, EVP of digital for Nickelodeon Kids and Family. “We want our content to be everywhere our audiences are, and when you look at the iPhone and other smartphones, they are becoming portable content devices, and we view them as a great platform.”
So far, Nick’s iPhone apps have been focused on games or personalization tools. Recently, the network launched iCarly: Sam’s Remote and Go, Diego, Go! Musical Missions. The iCarly app spoofs the highly rated TV show among teenage girls. The show stars a girl who has her own web show and the iPhone app, called Sam’s remote, turns your iPod or iPhone into a remote control that features sound effects from the show, like random dancing, applause, boos, and Sam’s insults.
So far, Youngwood said much of what Nick has done in mobile has been experimental as the space continues to evolve. He said a lot of fine-tuning has been spent on figuring out its audience; what’s the right mix of categories for apps; pricing and platforms.
On categories: Youngwood said the applications today are mostly games and personalization, but not video. “I think we are experimenting and looking at a couple different things – like everyone is. But if you look at iTunes, an iCarly episode was the No. 1 downloaded video on iTunes yesterday, so we feel we are on the iPhone and iPod Touch with video already. We will experiment with apps, and what’s working really well is games and personalization.” Down the round, they’ll try more news and information and target content to parents and adults. Nick also has video on phones through FLO TV, MobiTV and a BlackBerry video application.
Smartphone availability: Youngwood said they’ve done a ton of research on whether kids have access to smartphones, like the iPhone, and there’s two trends: One is that parents are handing off their phones to kids to be entertained while in the car or elsewhere, and two, the iPod Touch has been a hit among the 9 to 11 year olds.
Other platforms: Nickelodeon has first focused on the iPhone platform, but is considering developing some of the best-selling apps for BlackBerry, Android, and maybe Palm (NSDQ: PALM) and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Of course, Nickelodeon also has a mobile web site, but it’s not where consumers can easily play games or video because Flash is not readily available on phones. “Apps have really opened the door to taking gaming on mobile basis,” Youngwood said. “A kid cannot play a game in the airplane if it’s a wap site.”
Paid or free?:: Nickelodeon charges for all of its apps today, and typically offers a lighter version for free. It has only started recently looking at advertising as an option in apps. “We are focused on getting the product right and making sure we understand the consumer—that’s a place we’ll look and see if it’s appropriate.” As for who are the decision-makers who by the apps, Youngwood said it’s typically the parent with the child being the heavy influencer.” Youngwood declined to say whether the business is profitable.
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