Decades after most mothers started working outside the home, the folks at Nickelodeon have home to a stunning realization: Many moms like to unwind by watching a little TV after the kids go to bed. Now Nickeloden is hoping to attract viewers between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. who are free to watch at full volume without fear that dad will hear them in the den. The new programming block will be called "NickMom," because according to the network, these women don't want to forget for a minute that they're mothers, not just people.
Advertisers are eager to reach moms, and Nickelodeon believes it has the perfect hook, since 25% of mothers grew up on Nick (it's a troubling thought for some, but those of us who grew up identifying with Nona F. Mecklenberg and shouting "blowhole" are now old enough to have a tattooed, red-haired hellion of our own). The Wall Street Journal reports that the network has big plans for attracting older viewers:
The cable channel is launching a website next week, where moms can interact. Programming in the works and set to start airing next fall may include a "Real Mom" reality show à la "Real Housewives," and a show called "Double Mom," where a comedian takes a mother's place for a day.
Another idea is to air old episodes of "The Brady Brunch" with pop-up bubbles showing what Carol Brady and other characters were really thinking. The idea is to create content that "appeals to the sense of humor that mothers share," says Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Networks.
There are also talk shows, a game show called Mom Vs. Grandma, and a Daily Show-type program with Annabelle Gurwitch.
Of course, mothers are already watching TV during these hours. Women are a large part of the network prime-time audience and make up 70% of the evening audiences for the cable channels Bravo, E!, Lifetime, the Hallmark Channel. However, Nickelodeon believes it will be able to lure women away because unlike shows such as Dancing With The Stars, Real Housewives, and American Idol, their programs will cater to mothers specifically. You might think that mothers, like other TV viewers, want a little escapism after the kids go to bed, such as a show about catty wealthy women whose children only appear intermittenly. However, according to the disturbing results of a study conducted by Nickelodeon, that isn't the case. When the network had trouble convincing women to stay in a hotel for two nights with no contact with their family for $1,500, it concluded that mothers, "do not recognize a 'non-mom' part of their identities."
As any celebrity will gush, motherhood is an incredibly demanding, yet wonderful, part of many women's lives. But do women really long for TV that never lets them forget they're a mother, not a person with outside interests as well? Moms do watch some shows aimed at their demographic, but women aren't exclusively watching DVRed episodes of The Talk during prime-time. Rather than four hours of shows with "mom" in the title, Nickelodeon might want to focus on programs for adults that are generally funny, entertaining, or even intellectually stimulating. Somehow we doubt that the mothers of America want to spend their precious free time watching pop-up Brady Bunch reruns.