Nickelodeon is one of the largest and most recognizable child brands in the world. Having several sister channels, theme parks, hotels, and cruises, it has it all. If you are a young entrepreneur then the Nickelodeon channel might be quite familiar to you. But who owns Nickelodeon?
As of September 2018, the Nickelodeon channel had over 87 million households watching it in the United States. So, who managed to create this empire of fun and happiness? This article will explain who founded Nickelodeon and if it is still under the same ownership. Let’s get started!
The Early History of Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon gets its name from the very first five-cent movies called nickelodeons. The channel itself appeared in December 1977 under Warner Cable Communications. At the time it was called Pinwheel before officially launched as Nickelodeon on April 1, 1979.
The idea for the channel was from Dr. Vivian Horner, an educator as well as the director of research on the PBS show The Electric Company. She created the first series for the channel called Pinwheel. The show became popular enough for Dr. Horner to expand it into the television show that we know now.
Throughout the 80s, Nickelodeon struggled and lost $10 million in the four years it had started. The management was replaced with MTV Networks president Bob Pittman who utilized the people from his channel and turned Nickelodeon around into its golden age.
Because of its new success, Nickelodeon started the Kids’ Choice Awards, opened Nickelodeon Studios, and would become more established because of its creation of original animation.
The Golden Age
Thanks to its original animated programming like Rugrats and Ren & Stimpy, Nickelodeon was able to expand more with more programming. New shows like All That and The Amanda Show became huge hits with millions drawn in. Shows like All That would launch careers such as Kenan Thompson and Amanda Bynes.
As the 90s went on, they toyed with their first theater-released movies, which also proved to be a hit. Then on May 1, 1999, they released their most popular show in the history of the channel Spongebob Squarepants. The Spongebob franchise has gone on to generate over $13 billion for Nickelodeon.
The channel has continued with success and many other shows, launching careers and catering to millions of children across the world. As of 2016, they have been going over their older properties and making movies of them.
Nickelodeon would come under new management after Cyma Zarghami was President from 2006 to 2018. She was replaced with All That co-creator Brian Robbins. He would later become the CEO of Paramount Pictures and is the Chief Content Officer, Kids & Family, Paramount+.
Now, the channel works to expand across other platforms working with Viacom to launch Nickelodeon shows and channels on Pluto TV and with Netflix. Nickelodeon also works with CBS and has a partnership with CBS Sports. In fact, Nickelodeon is a prominent part of the CBS coverage of the Super Bowl. This sports partnership lead to the NFL hosting games on the Nickelodeon channel.
So who owns Nickelodeon? Dr. Vivian Horner was the founder of the channel but never owned it. In reality, she left the channel in 1983. She would later be a board chair member of the Bank Street College of Education and served on the Board of the National Foreign Language Center. In 1999 she credited Geraldine Laybourne with making Nickelodeon a success. She said,
- “Laybourne really understands what kids want: Her Nickelodeon has an attitude, like Angelica from Rugrats. I appreciate it, but I like softer programming myself. I’m a bit old-fashioned. I’m not sure if I could have made Nickelodeon such a big hit.”
Geraldine Laybourne was a program manager at Nickelodeon and started the focus-group approach to their programming. Horner would later pass away from COPD at 88 in May 2022.
Paramount Media Networks has owned Nickelodeon since the network’s inception. First known as Warner Cable Communications, Nickelodeon was made after there was potential to create new cable networks. With the success of Nickelodeon, Warner Cable Communications would rebrand and would fall under Viacom.
Nickelodeon was one of the first children’s entertainment networks, but it didn’t know it yet. With cable companies figuring out the idea of tv channels, Nickelodeon became lightning in a bottle with the thanks of Dr. Vivian Horner.
Since then, Nickelodeon is still going strong and has no signs of stopping. The channel shows that ingenuity, risk-taking, and hard work pays off in the end. While it may have gone under many ownerships, Nickelodeon never changed, always providing the best content for children.
Not to mention that it started the careers of many musicians and actors that we know today, Nickelodeon is responsible for a big part of our entertainment and culture.