Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rob Bagshaw Talks About How Nickelodeon Plans to Retain Viewers by Branching Out Into Non-Scripted Programming

NEW ORLEANS – To date there are more than 300 Over-the-Top (OTT) services fighting for viewership, with services such as ViacomCBS' CBS All Access, Amazon and Netflix as well as the much-hyped offerings from HBO Max and BBC-Discovery still to launch. Suffice it to say that the American streaming marketplace is becoming crowded.

Perhaps taken for granted in this maelstrom of industry activity is linear cable television, where pay-TV providers in the U.S. still account for 84.8 million subscribers, as of December 2019. So how is cable keeping its edge and fighting back to ensure its content is as compelling as anything on Amazon or Netflix?

Those were the questions that a group of top-level industry executives were looking to answer during a Wednesday (Jan. 29) panel discussion, titled “Linear: Alive and Well” and moderated by Bruce David Klein, president and executive producer at Atlas Media Corp, at the 2020 Realscreen Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Over the past year, Nickelodeon, a division of ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks has been working tirelessly to ratchet up its non-scripted entertainment offering in the hopes of retaining its young viewers. While unscripted programming is relatively new at the network, Nickelodeon’s Rob Bagshaw, Executive Vice President (EVP) of unscripted content, noted that the network has seen successes in the past with game show Double Dare, which was recently revived, and is now doubling down on its production in non-scripted entertainment with hidden camera prank show The Substitute, shiny floor format America’s Most Musical Family, competition series Top Elf and an Americanized version of UK game show The Crystal Maze already on offer.

Photo: Rahoul Ghose

“Children are still coming to us as the bedrock of where they start to watch television… our key demo is 6-11, and we’re trying to build that by broadening out into co-viewing,” said Bagshaw.

“My challenge is to grow a genre within a network and across our other platforms so that our audience is aware they can get that content that they’re watching elsewhere, and the best way of doing that is to [offer] variety,” he continued.

The panel also featured Howard Swartz, SVP of production and development at Discovery Channel and Lauren Gellert, EVP of development and original programming at WE tv, who discussed what their respective networks were doing to keep viewers tuning in. You can read what Swartz and Gellert revealed during the panel here on

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