Noggin (brand)

Noggin
Noggin logo.svg
Product type
OwnerViacom Media Networks[1]
Country
  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Latin America
Introduced
  • February 2, 1999; 19 years ago (1999-02-02) (as a TV Network)
  • March 4, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-03-04) (as a mobile app for preschoolers)
Related brands
Previous owners
Websitewww.noggin.com

Noggin is an entertainment brand launched on February 2, 1999 as a joint venture between Viacom's Nickelodeon and the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop).[2][3] The Jim Henson Company also held a stake in the channel when it was launched. Noggin was initially advertised as both a linear television network, and a website. The brand has since expanded to include three mobile subscription services, a second website, and four defunct programming blocks worldwide. It was initially aimed at a pre-teen audience[4] and shifted its target demographic to preschool-aged children in April 2002.[5]

Every Noggin service is released under Viacom's Noggin LLC banner.[6][7] As of 2018, Noggin LLC is headquartered in the MTV Studios wing of One Astor Plaza in New York City.[8]

Services

TV channel

The first service released under the Noggin brand name was a satellite television network, which operated from February 2, 1999 until September 28, 2009. Noggin's lineup during its first years consisted almost entirely of titles from Sesame Workshop's library, with occasional reruns of Nickelodeon and Jim Henson series.[9][10] Most of the content was aimed at teenagers and Generation Xers.[11] The two providers had over 5,000 hours of library material to broadcast,[12] and did not produce original programming until a full year on the air had passed.[13] The network shared its channel space with The N from 2002 until 2007, when Noggin became a 24-hour network.[14][15]

Noggin commissioned its first half-hour original series for teenagers in April 2000, titling it A Walk In Your Shoes.[16] A live game show aimed at pre-teens, Sponk!, premiered a year afterwards.[17] This was one of many Noggin series that focused primarily on viewer-submitted content, along with the animated Phred on Your Head Show and its spin-off The URL with Phred Show. A block of preschool-oriented series had become a staple of the network by 2002.[18]

Noggin consistently received substantially higher ratings than Nickelodeon's other sister channels. It was viewed by an average of 529,000 households daily in early 2009, while The N was viewed by about 210,000 each day.[19] At the time of its closure, Noggin reached over 64 million households in the United States (as opposed to the 1.5 million subscribers it reached upon being launched).[20]

Noggin.com

One of Viacom and Sesame Workshop's goals was to develop Noggin into a "cable-computer hybrid."[21] Noggin.com, the channel's website, was launched in 1999 as a portal for exclusive content. Unlike Nick.com and other previous online ventures, the website was integrated into many television shows.[22] Viewers were encouraged to offer suggestions for programs, such as the tween-oriented game show Sponk!, through the site. Throughout 2000, Bill Nye of Bill Nye the Science Guy answered questions asked by Noggin.com users between airings of his program.[23][24] User-generated content submitted to Noggin.com was the focal point of The URL with Phred Show (whose title is a reference to the Noggin.com URL).[25][26] In 2001, Noggin launched "Chattervision", which allowed viewers to comment on the network's programming through the website and see their conversations appear live on TV.[27]

In 2001, CRC Press published "Interactive Design for Media and the Web", which provided an in-depth description of Noggin.com and stated that it included "complex and confounding games that kids will enjoy."[28] Noggin.com was also listed in Dierdre Kelly's book "1001 Best Websites for Kids," published in the same year.[29] In 2004, the site was the recipient of a Webby Award in the "Broadband" category.[30] Later that year, it won first place in the "Brand Image and Positioning" category at the 21st Annual CTAM Mark Awards.[31] 2004 also saw the release of Shell Education's "Must See Websites for Parents & Kids" book, which featured Noggin.com.[32] Time Magazine included the Noggin site on its "50 Best Websites of 2004" list.[33] It won a second Webby in the Youth category in 2005.[34] In 2006, John Braheny published "The Craft & Business of Songwriting", which included a brief entry about Noggin.com's musical content (calling it "an innovative and popular site...that presents videos of children's artists").[35] Jean Armour Polly of Common Sense Media gave the site a positive review in 2007, noting that "young kids will get a kick out of playing games, coloring printable pages, and singing along to music videos all featuring their favorite TV characters."[36] In 2008, it received a Parents' Choice Award[37] and a nomination for a third Webby.[38]

MyNoggin

Viacom put $100 million[39] toward online gaming initiatives, such as a subscription-based educational site called MyNoggin, in July 2007.[40][41] The MyNoggin website was initially scheduled to launch in early September of that year,[42] but was not made available to the public until October.[43] The site's content was curriculum-based and intended for children in preschool through first grade.[44] The games on MyNoggin covered major school subjects and included Noggin characters.[45] In addition to activities, MyNoggin included printable workbooks that expanded upon math and science concepts.[46] Parents were able to monitor their children's growth and activity on the site through daily progress reports.[47] The website was free of advertisements and supported by subscriptions, which were available for online purchase and through prepaid game cards sold throughout 2008.[48][49] Charter, Insight and Cox Communications customers were given unlimited access to MyNoggin as part of their cable subscriptions.[50][51][52] The site also offered a week-long free trial.[53]

Mobile applications

A streaming service featuring episodes of Noggin shows was announced in January 2015.[54][55] Most programs on the app were cancelled prior to its development.[56] The application was unveiled in February 2015[57] and released on March 5 for iOS systems.[58][59] It is updated monthly and includes full seasons of productions from Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, and Nelvana.[60] In May 2015, many shows that had previously been available on Amazon Instant Video were moved to the Noggin app as a result of low sales.[61] On November 18, 2015, it was made available for Android, Apple TV, and Kindle. On April 8, 2016, Alcatel Mobile announced that the Noggin app would come pre-loaded on its Alcatel Xess tablet.[62]

The app received mixed reviews upon release. Brad Tuttle of Time predicted that paying $6 a month for a streaming app with much less content than Netflix would not be a popular idea with parents.[63] Scott Porch of Wired wrote positively of Viacom's efforts to decrease their dependence on cable subscriptions with the app, but noticed that it was only "baby steps toward the no-cable-required model."[64] Amanda Bindel of Common Sense Media commended the user-friendly layout and educational content, but felt that it lacked sufficient parental controls.[65] In fall 2015, the app received a Parents' Choice Award in the Mobile Apps category.[66]

Two international applications based on Noggin have been launched. In November 2015, a Spanish streaming app was released under the Noggin title in Latin America.[67][68][69] It includes games based on Nick Jr. programs and full episodes of shows unavailable on the English app (such as the Spanish dubs of Roary the Racing Car and Rugrats).[70] The app currently has a Facebook page and a section on the MundoNick website.[71] A Portuguese version was released to Google Play and the Brazilian App Store on November 21, 2015.[72][73]

Programming blocks

United Kingdom

Noggin was featured as a programming block on Nick Jr. UK from May 2004 until August 2005.[74] It ran for two hours every night and included reruns of syndicated British television series for children.[75] The timeslot was renamed Nick Jr. Classics on September 1, 2005.[76]

On January 30, 2006, Noggin was launched as a block on TMF in the United Kingdom.[77] The channel was available exclusively to Freeview subscribers at the time.[78] Unlike the block from 2004, it featured currently-running Nick Jr. programs, such as Dora the Explorer and The Backyardigans. It ran every weekday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.[79][80]

United States

Nickelodeon included a Noggin programming block as part of its lineup from 1999 to 2000.[81] The block was originally titled "Noggins Up" and became "Noggin on Nickelodeon" during its second year on the air.[82] It showcased one tween-oriented program every weekday. The timeslot proved successful in attracting thousands of visitors to the Noggin.com site.[83] Nickelodeon revived the block for a single day on April 7, 2003 to advertise the restructuring of Noggin's lineup.[84] The event incorporated episodes of Tweenies, Oobi, and Miffy and Friends into the Nick Jr. block.[85] Commercials for the Noggin channel were also played between each regular program.[86] Following the block's removal, premiere episodes of Noggin series (such as A Walk In Your Shoes, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Jack's Big Music Show) were frequently simulcast on Nickelodeon and Noggin.[87]

TV Land also included a temporary block of Noggin programming in 1999.[88] Spanning two hours, it primarily showcased The Electric Company, along with commercials for Noggin.[89] On-air continuity during the block included guest appearances by Mel Brooks, Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and Joan Rivers.[90]

Other media

In November 2005, Noggin signed its first merchandising agreement with the online marketplace CafePress.[91] Themed notebooks, cards, mousepads, and clothing were sold on the Noggin website from then until 2009.[92] The shop was created to satisfy parents who had been requesting merchandise since the brand's launch. Angela Leaney, Noggin's senior vice president of brand communications, stated that Noggin had "a huge, loyal following and we could not resist the calls from our audience, for Noggin merchandise, any longer."[93] CafePress co-founder Fred Durham added that Noggin attracted strong interest from his company because of its "dedicated fan base," and that his goal was to share the products "with [Noggin's] millions of fans through quality branded merchandise."[94] Christmas ornaments, which were only sold during the month of December, became the shop's best-selling items of 2005.[95]

A series of commercials for Noggin were produced and aired on sister networks. One on-air campaign titled "If Life Were More Like Preschool" was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award.[96]

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