Nickelodeon debuts first ever online-only series, no authentication required

Responding to a sudden and very steep ratings decline that shook the entire Viacom empire back in late-2011, Nickelodeon embarked on an ambitious quest to create successor hits to aging kid favorites like iCarly, SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.

Welcome to the Wayne Nickelodeon

(Screengrab: Nick.com)

One of the results is Welcome to the Wayne, which debuted Monday, Aug. 4 as the first ever Nickelodeon series to premiere online.

In a possible burn to pay-TV operators still grumbling about the high cost of overall Viacom programming renewals, the show is available for viewing without pay-TV authentication. It will be developed into a linear TV series if it proves popular.

As the New York Times reports, Welcome to the Wayne highlights an aggressive multiscreen expansion of one of cable's most venerable kids brands, a possible precursor to how programming might be executed as post-gen-Y viewers age up to more advanced networks.

"The program is part of an overhaul at Viacom's 36-year-old children's network to discover, develop and disseminate shows for a new generation of "Rugrats" who barely distinguish among a television set, a laptop, a tablet and a mobile phone," the Times notes.

"After its ratings dropped," the article adds, "Nickelodeon overhauled its operations. The network researched the next generation of children, those born since 2005, who in addition to watching television grew up searching for funny cat videos on YouTube."

Welcome to the Wayne is only part of a sweeping redesign of Nick.com, which had been left largely untouched since the Web 1.0 era. The newly revamped site features a mobile app, as well as thousands of games and full-length TV shows viewable through TV Everywhere authentication.

And, of course, it also features a few shows that don't require such authentication.

"These kids were born into digital TV land," Cyma Zarghami, president of Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon Group, told the Times.

For more:
- read this New York Times report

Related links:
Rural operators drop Viacom
Viacom's latest TV Everywhere spin: Users prefer it over other online services because of content
Viacom shuts down online access to Cable One subscribers

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