"SpongeBob SquarePants" has taken a hit from losing DirecTV… (Nickelodeon )
Ratings for Viacom's Nickelodeon have fallen dramatically in the days since the channel was dropped from satellite broadcaster DirecTV over a fee dispute.
On July 10, the last day Nickelodeon had distribution on DirecTV, its total day audience was about 1.8 million. On July 11, that figure fell 33% to 1.2 million. On Friday, the average was up slightly to 1.3 million.
Losing carriage on DirecTV couldn't have come at a worse time for Nickelodeon. The cable network, which caters its programming to kids and teens with shows that include "SpongeBob SquarePants"and "Dora the Explorer," has seen its audience shrink over the past year while rival Disney Channel has made gains.
While talks are ongoing between DirecTV and Viacom, neither side has indicated that a deal is near. Viacom took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times today encouraging DirecTV subscribers to switch services.
A Viacom spokesman noted that the ratings drop is not surprising given how popular Nickelodeon is on DirecTV. "It's the most watched cable network on DirecTV," the spokesman said.
Other Viacom channels have also seen a loss of viewers. MTV's total day average went from almost 500,000 viewers on July 10 to 273,000 on July 13, a 43% dip. VH1 has dropped almost 30% of its audience and Comedy Central is off 21% for the same period.
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