Editor's Note: The following has been adapted with the author's permission from its original publication on Carolina Culture Warrior. To be fully transparent, the author also owns shares in ABC (as previously disclosed).
If Nickelodeon thought politicizing its annual Kids’ Choice Awards would draw viewership, the liberal tween-centered network was sadly mistaken. In fact, despite a slew of star power and a fun segment based on the critically-acclaimed Nintendo Switch game Super Mario Odyssey, the blatant and unnecessary March for Our Lives references looks to have turned kids and their parents away in droves.
According to recent reports, the annual ceremony has reached a record low, with only 1.87 million viewers. It’s a particular embarrassment for Nick considering that even last year’s Video Music Awards on sister network MTV garnered more viewers — although it too was at an all-time low.
Could part of the reason be that most of the content that was honored wasn’t kid-appropriate? Popular superhero movies were honored this year, but so were songs in the music categories with lewd lyrics with N.E.R.D. performing their recent song Lemon on the show, which includes numerous profanities (although most weren’t used in their Kids’ Choice performance). NewsBusters’ Corinne Weaver has more:
[T]he appropriateness of some content honored at the awards was questionable, at best. Ed Sheeran’s sensual “Shape of You,” with lyrics that most elementary school students can’t relate to (“Now my bedsheets smell like you” isn’t really a lyric you want to hear on a kids’ camping trip), was given the award for best song, while Fifth Harmony and Camila Cabello both won awards for their music. The band and the singer do not create family friendly content, for the most part. Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” has girls singing that they “like it a little rough.”
It’s Nickelodeon. How old is their target audience again?
Like MTV, Nickelodeon has eroded down to a shell of its former self thanks to not only its left turn but the growing abundance of streaming options like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. From the perspective of a ’90s kid, children and tweens alike used to watch the Viacom-owned network because it spoke to and for them, from the imaginary adventures of the Rugrats to the slice-of life tales of Doug to (more recently) the nonsensical and surreal humor of flagship show SpongeBob SquarePants.
In part, although some shows were a bit too controversial for children’s TV at the time (sometimes a bit too gross for some parents to let their children watch, i.e. Ren & Stimpy), the Nickelodeon brand used to mean something.
Today, Nickelodeon has gone the way of MTV, wanting kids to grow up too fast — from politics to crude humor. The Kids’ Choice Awards definitely proved that, and sacrificed ratings and parents’ trust in the process.