'Kid's Choice Awards' is silly fun and serious biz - New York Daily News

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'Kid's Choice Awards' is silly fun and serious biz - New York Daily News
Mar 30th 2012, 12:05

The annual Nickelodeon "Kids Choice Awards," which return Saturday night at 8, is the one awards show that makes all the others bearable.

What's not to like about an awards program where the highest prize is not a shiny statuette, but a healthy squirt of green slime?

Amid all this merriment, however, a flurry of recent developments reminds us that "kids TV" is serious big business.

You wouldn't think, intuitively, that getting kids to watch television would require any major effort.

Instead, you might think the heavy lift would be prying them away from the set — something many folks think we need to do. A Canadian report issued this week says children 2 to 5 will be smarter and healthier if parents limit them to an hour of screen time a day.

This study echoes similar long-standing warnings from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and yes, the cover of all those cautionary reports should feature a sticky note that says, "Good luck!"

A recent Sesame Workshop report found kids 2-5 average more than three hours a day with the TV, computer, iPad and other screens.

The real concern of the television biz, of course, is that TV maintain its traditional lion's share of that time.

The Sesame study said 47% of kids' screen time is spent with the TV. But that share has been declining. As early as 2008 a DoubleClick study reported that most preteens would give up television before giving up Internet access.

Some of what kids watch on those other devices, of course, is TV shows. Still, with the sheer volume of content available now and the increasing ease with which users can generate that content themselves, television is working harder than ever to remain high on the radar.

And in TV as in all other areas of marketing, no consumer is too young to be a target of brand promotion.

Disney has just replaced its SoapNet channel with Disney Junior, largely aimed at kids 2-7.

On July 7, NBC will launch a new Saturday morning bloc programmed by Sprout and aimed at kids 2-5.

PBS Kids has also been expanding its programming, and like commercial networks, is heavily promoting and cross-promoting its growing Web division.

Children's television is even getting more "event programming." On April 21 the Hub network unveils a two-part "My Little Pony" wedding special. Yes, you read that right.

The Kids Choice Awards target slightly older viewers, ones who can stay up past 8. Still, the show is all about voting for and celebrating what kids like best, especially on television.

Will Smith is host and the performers include Katy Perry. Presenters include Cee Lo Green, Miranda Cosgrove, Heidi Klum, Chris Colfer, Zac Efron, Victoria Justice and Michelle Obama.

Nickelodeon works hard, and successfully, to make it a must-attend party.

The whole children's TV industry shares that wish.

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