Moms, you know you've been there. You finally stuff the kids into bed after a day of crumbs, cries and stamping out fires. You sink into the couch and zone out like a survivor. Ten minutes passes and you realize you've been watching Dora. Alone. This was me last night, but behold, it wasn't Dora. The lingering Nick Jr. glow on my television was the network's new programming geared toward moms called Nick Mom. It's starts at 9:00 with shows like, "Moms Night Out" that features a stand-up line up of mom comedians. (Oh, and by the way, apparently this show was tapped in Chicago and I never got the memo. NICK JR, CALL ME. I'm way better than what you've got going.) I poured a glass of wine and smirked as comedians mocked other moms who don't let their kids have sugar or TV. Ironically, a commercial for no-sugar-added grape juice followed the segment.
This new programming is just one of many changes the Nick Jr. channel is making. What was once a faster-paced version of PBS geared toward toddlers has become, well, a problem. Nick Jr. used to not have commercials. They had a cartoon duo named Moose and Zee who taught vocabulary words and solved puzzles between episodes. The Nick Jr. channel was touted as "preschool on TV" and ran 24 hour learning programming.
I'll admit, when this first change occurred I thought the parents reacting to the absence of Moose and Zee were hysterical, just typical overreacting of TV-obsessed helicopter parents. But as time went on, the firing of Moose and Zee was revealed as just the beginning of a decent into subpar programming. Slowly and insidiously, commercials for products began to trickle in. At first Nick Jr. advertised their own programming between breaks. Then there was the Dora action doll. Now there are a whole plethora of blinking, battery-operated, mind-numbing products being direct marketed to kids. My daughter Bee now shouts things at me like, "Mom can I have that for my birthday?" while I'm washing dishes.
With the introduction of commercials and now the PM switch to Nick Mom, which in some markets comes on as early as 7:00PM when kids are still wide awake, parents are getting angry. And this time, I agree. It feels like Nick Jr. is selling out its audience to a ratings game. To be fair, it is cable TV and ratings are what drives their market, but the problem is they have divorced their loyal base. Sure, we can all chuckle at moms who don't let their kids have sugar, but truthfully, it's because we are "those moms". It's only funny because the type of parent who paid for cable TV in order to watch "preschool on TV" is the same parent who doesn't want commercials for their toddlers and wants their juice with no sugar added. Just ask the advertisers.
Here are sample comments from the Nick Jr. Facebook page:
"CANCEL NICKMOM.... No good mother thinks it is funny to be a drunk mom. Get that nasty woman Stefanie Wilder Taylor off the air!!!"
"Please move Nick Mom to its own channel, the explicit language is interrupting"
"I can't express enough how disheartening the toy commercials are in the morning. To me it negates any educational value of the shows, as all my daughter takes away is a lust for plastic instead of learning. VERY disappointed."
"I dont need my 3 and 5 year old boys watching a woman giving birth!"
It would be wise if Nick Jr. offered a program line-up that catered to the wants of its customer base because now they are a drop in the sea of channels that can entertain moms after 9:00. I'll never give up my Jon Stewart. And in the mean time? Hopefully another network will pick up where Nick Jr. left off and provide educational programming. And there's always Big Bird*! We'll vote with our money on this one, Nick.
*For now. Wink.
Filed under: Rage Against The TV