BBC children's offerings fail to make initial impact

LONDON - CBBC and CBeebies have so far failed to make a serious dent in the viewing figures of their commercial rivals, despite fears from the commercial sector that they would steal their market share.

According to unofficial figures from Nickelodeon, CBBC attracted just 1% of the audience in multichannel homes during its debut week beginning February 11. However, pre-school channel Cbeebies has faired better with a 4% share.

For the same week, Nickelodeon retained its 10% share of the audience, the Cartoon Network drew 8.7%, Fox Kids had 3.3%, Boomerang 2.2% and Disney 2.1%.

Nickelodeon Jr. has in fact increased its share since the launch of Cbeebies, after it relaunched a week before the BBC channels debuted. Nickelodeon believes the success of Cbeebies is because it has retained the audience which it attracted in its previous incarnation as the daytime output of BBC Choice, which launched 18 months ago.

However, a spokeswoman for Nickelodeon said that ratings are just one area of concern for commercial broadcasters.

The BBC's commercial rivals fear the public service broadcaster's dominant position in the marketplace could give it an unfair advantage in the commissioning and acquiring of programmes.

The spokeswoman said that although Nickelodeon is confident of its leadership in this sector it could not compete with the BBC's marketing spend.

Last year Viacom-owned Nickelodeon joined forces with commercial rivals MTV, CNN, Discovery and the Cartoon Network to try to put a stop to the BBC's digital plans on the basis that the markets were already well served by commercial providers.

The BBC is still awaiting approval for its youth channel BBC3, which will replace BBC Choice, amid staunch opposition from commercial rivals such as Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

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Claire Billings, recommends


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