Nick Jr. is an American digital cable and satellite television channel that is run by the Nickelodeon Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom, the channel's ultimate owner headquartered in New York City. The channel, which is aimed at kids under six years, features a mix of originally-produced programming, and series previously and concurrently aired on the Nick Jr. block and its previous iterations. Some of Nick Jr.'s programming includes series such as Sunny Day, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Little Bear, PAW Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Shimmer and Shine, and Dora and Friends: Into the City. Due to the Nickelodeon block, Nick Jr. is sometimes disclaimed on air as "the Nick Jr. channel" to avert confusion, especially times of day where both Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. are both carrying preschool programming.
The channel was originally known as Noggin from its February 2, 1999 launch until September 28, 2009. Sister channel The N was relaunched as TeenNick at the same time as Noggin's relaunch as Nick Jr.; as with TeenNick, Nick Jr.'s name was taken from a former program block on parent channel Nickelodeon, which aired weekday mornings from 1988 to 2009 under the Nick Jr. name; and still survives today on Nickelodeon as a block with the same name as of 2014 (which regularly airs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET; 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. ET during the summer months or on designated school break periods and major national holidays), having traditional commercial breaks and no common continuity between each series. As of January 2016, Nick Jr. is available to approximately 73.0 million pay television households in the United States.
In 1995, Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) began planning its own educational cable channel as a new home for most of its programming (other than Sesame Street) such as Cro (which had aired on ABC with excellent ratings, but was canceled after 2 seasons). The channel was to be called "New Kid City" and was planned to be CTW's "own niche on the dial with shows that emphasize educational content"; but CTW later abandoned the concept.
Meanwhile, Nickelodeon began planning an early interactive educational channel called "Big Orange"; in addition to Nickelodeon, other Viacom divisions (such as Viacom Interactive) were involved with the project. Eventually, however, by 1997, Viacom retooled the project into a package of educational programming that was to be syndicated to Broadcast TV Networks to help them meet the FCC's new requirements for educational programming, and the project was renamed "Noggin". A pilot was also developed for the project that was based on a Nickelodeon series of shorts called "Inside Eddie Johnson".
In addition to being a syndicated package of educational programming, another vision was that Noggin could also evolve into a cable channel that would focus on educational content, complementing entertainment-oriented Nickelodeon. Noggin would ultimately not launch as a syndication package, but by 1998, CTW and Nickelodeon would form a partnership, and Noggin was announced soon after as a joint venture between Nickelodeon and CTW with the goal of "[positioning] educational children's programs at the forefront of the digital cable movement".
The new channel launched on February 2, 1999 at 6:00 AM, with the original pilot episode of Sesame Street from 1969. It then was followed by the first few episodes of The Electric Company, which had not been televised since 1971. At the time Noggin launched, only Inverness, Colorado-based satellite provider EchoStar and Meridian, Colorado-based satellite provider Dish Network carried the channel.
The network's name was derived from a slang term for "head" and, by extension, had reflected its original purpose as an educational channel. Noggin's programming was originally targeted primarily at pre-teens from 1999 to 2002, although a few programs airing on the channel were aimed at preschoolers. This had the unintended consequence of creating a redundant audience with parent network Nickelodeon, which also primarily targets a pre-teen audience, despite Noggin's programming being more educational in nature than the entertainment-based Nickelodeon. The channel's first official mascot was Phred, a strange pickle character, who was seen on the channel from 1999 to 2002.
Because ratings were low, the format of Noggin was changed on Monday, April 1, 2002, shifting its target audience to preschoolers full-time. That same date, Noggin debuted a new mascot named Feetface. Also, Viacom launched The N, a teen-oriented program block that targeted an older audience and featured programming edgier in content than Noggin or Nickelodeon.
Similarly to the shared-time format of Nickelodeon (which had shared channel space with other cable channels throughout much of its history including The Movie Channel, BET, the Alpha Repertory Television Service and its successor A&E) and Nick at Nite, Noggin and The N aired their respective programming over the same channel space and in a block format: Noggin ran from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET, while The N ran from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. ET seven nights a week. This was acknowledged in Noggin's daily sign-off message, which explained that Noggin would resume its programming at 6:00 a.m. ET the next morning. Later in 2002, Sesame Workshop sold its stake in Noggin to Viacom, giving them full control of the channel.
Noggin was a commercial-free service, but it showed interstitials between shows such as episodes from the short film series Oobi and Connie the Cow's Milk Break, as well as other "tie-in" media such as music videos that tied in with promotions for programs on the other Nickelodeon channels. Much of the channel's revenue came primarily from carriage fees paid by pay television providers.
Feetface's last day on Noggin aired on Sunday, April 6, 2003, alongside Maurice Sendak's Little Bear. After that, they showed a preview for Moose and Zee followed by the final Noggin bumper and The N's Sunday schedule. On Monday, April 7, 2003, Noggin introduced two new mascots named Moose A. Moose and Zee D. Bird. Besides airing classic Nickelodeon preschool series such as Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer, and original shows such as Oobi and Jack's Big Music Show, Noggin also aired many preschool-oriented shows originating from English-speaking countries outside of the United States (including the Canadian series Maurice Sendak's Little Bear and Franklin the Turtle, and British series Tiny Planets).
The channel also served as the launching pad for music videos by children's music artists such as Laurie Berkner, Lisa Loeb and Dan Zanes, usually shown as filler between 23-minute-long shows that ran commercial-free. The channel continued to carry classic Sesame Workshop series until September 12, 2005. Around this time, Noggin began to air versions of classic shows from the Sesame Workshop library (such as The Electric Company), that were edited for running time.
In 2006, Noggin began to decrease its reliance on foreign children's programs; Tweenies was removed from the schedule in January, with Tiny Planets being dropped that April. Tiny Planets was previously shown intermittently, i.e. not on a daily basis, at 6 a.m. ET, as Tweenies was for a year until it was removed. The channel, however, later acquired the Australian series The Upside Down Show (which, like Tiny Planets, has American origins through Sesame Workshop). Noggin was renamed as Nick's Noggin on April 2, 2007, carrying Nick Jr. programs.
On August 13, 2007, Nickelodeon announced that it would shut down sister channel Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids on December 31, 2007, turning it into an online-only service on TurboNick, with The N becoming its own 24-hour channel that would take over Nickelodeon GAS's channel space. Noggin's time-sharing service ended its five-year run on December 30, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. ET, with the Little Bear episode "Family Portrait/Little Bear's New Friend/Emily's Visit" as its last program to air. The final sign on was a sudden cut-in to the intro of the British series 64 Zoo Lane replacing the song.
Due to unknown bandwidth problems, Dish Network continued to carry Nickelodeon GAS on its usual channel slot, with Noggin continuing to timeshare with The N on the satellite provider until April 23, 2009, when Dish replaced GAS with the Pacific Time Zone feed of Turner Broadcasting System's Cartoon Network (that network used to air preschool programming until 2007); Dish Network began to carry The N and Noggin as separate channels on May 6, 2009.
On February 24, 2009, Nick announced that Noggin and The N were to be rebranded as Nick Jr. and TeenNick to bring both channels in line with the Nickelodeon brand identity. In July of that year, Nickelodeon unveiled new standardized logos for its five channels, intending to create a unified look that could better be conveyed across the services.
Noggin ended its 10-year run on September 28, 2009 at 6:00 a.m. ET and was relaunched as Nick Jr., accompanied by the debut of the new logo (which was designed by New York City-based creative director/designer Eric Zim). Although the use of an orange "adult" and blue "child" figure was discontinued in the new wordmark logo, the tradition of the "Nick" text being orange (representing the adult) and the "Jr." text remaining in blue (as the child) was retained. As is common with newer networks which have taken another former network's channel slot, some cable providers have confusingly continued to display the channel's logos as either Noggin, The N or both as that of Nick Jr.'s current logo on electronic program guides. The Nick Jr. channel retained Noggin's mascots Moose A. Moose and Zee D. Bird; it also continued not to accept traditional advertising or marginalize closing credits for promotion of other shows on the channel.
A Spanish language block featuring Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon programs debuted on July 12, 2010 on sister channel Tr3́s. "Tr3́s Jr." aired Spanish dubs of Blue's Clues and Wonder Pets. The block was ended once the final affiliations for Tr3́s broadcast stations requiring E/I programming expired.
On March 1, 2012, an update of Nick Jr.'s image debuted that was produced by Gretel Inc. The Moose A. Moose and Zee D. Bird mascots and programs were permanently dropped, halting the nine-year run, removing one of the last vestiges of the channel's former Noggin identity; as a result, some of the interstitial learning activities that originally featured Moose's narration were recycled and replaced by the voice of a female continuity announcer. Disappointed parents organized a social media effort to bring back the Moose and Zee characters. The channel changed its slogan from "It's Like Preschool on TV" to "The Smart Place to Play" (which is also used as the branding for Nickelodeon's preschool block).
The channel's programming at this point began to be hosted by characters from Nick Jr. shows. The channel also began incorporating programming promotions and short features on that date; seven months later, on October 1, 2012, Nick Jr. started airing limited traditional advertising (for companies such as ABCMouse, Kmart, and Playskool) in the form of underwriter sponsorships airing in-between shows, whereas its parent network airs longer traditional advertising.
In mid-February 2013, a second Pacific Time Zone-based feed for Nick Jr. was launched, both to allow a unified schedule across nearly all time zones and the reaction of parents to NickMom's scheduling a few months before which meant programming for a mature audience aired in the early evening west of the Rockies.
On February 25, 2015, Nickelodeon announced the return of the Noggin brand and the Moose and Zee characters, this time as the name and mascots for a new video streaming service launching March 5, 2015 as an iOS mobile app under the Noggin branding. The app requires a monthly subscription fee and offers access to selected episodes and/or full seasons from the Noggin archive of several cancelled and/or rarely aired Nick Jr. shows including Gullah Gullah Island, Blue's Clues and Oswald. Robot and Monster and Teletubbies are also on the app, even though they were never part of the Noggin lineup (in fact, the former was always targeted towards an adolescent audience), along with the mentioned new Moose and Zee clips and continuity.
Nick Jr.'s mobile app continues to exist separately with TV Everywhere requirements, which the Noggin subscription service will not require; no on-air changes have occurred on the linear Nick Jr. cable channel outside of promotions for the Noggin app and subscription service. The website was also revived to be an informational guide to the app.
On September 9, 2015, the social media channels of NickMom announced that the four-hour weeknight block on Nick Jr., along with the NickMom website, would end operations by the end of September 2015 due to Viacom's 2015 cutbacks involving acquired programming and also due to NickMom's low ratings with the time vacated by NickMom returned to traditional Nick Jr. programming. NickMom ended its three-year run at 2am ET in the early morning of September 28 with an airing of the film Guarding Tess. No sign off message was shown; after the film Guarding Tess, it faded straight into an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! at its end. Since then, some of Nick Jr.'s most popular programming, including repeats of Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Blue's Clues, and Team Umizoomi, now fill the four hours vacated by NickMom, whose former website address is now used as a redirect to Nickelodeon's site for parental resources.
Following NickMom's closure, Nick Jr. increased the amount of traditional advertising it aired, but also began scheduling programs in an inversion of the "off-the-clock" format, in which the network shortened its commercial breaks to a maximum of three minutes in length, allowing the network to air more programming. The "off-the-clock" format was previously adopted by various Viacom networks, such as TV Land, Nick at Nite, MTV, MTV2, and Spike (though in a reversed form, the scheduling format for those channels was designed to add extra advertising loads).
Nick Jr. HD is a high definition simulcast of Nick Jr. that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format; it was launched on August 1, 2013, Most of the network's post-2005 programs in the network's library are natively broadcast in HD, such as Mike the Knight, Peter Rabbit, and Lalaloopsy alongside recent seasons of Max & Ruby, Pecola, Bubble Guppies, and Dora the Explorer. As of 2017, most cable and IPTV systems, along with DirecTV carry the network in HD.
On May 16, 2011, MTV Networks launched two new channels, Nick Jr. and MTVNHD, in Asia. These 24-hour channels began to be available on StarHub TV in Singapore on May 18 and on Telekom Malaysia Berhad's Hypp.TV in Malaysia on June 1. The channel launched aggressively to the rest of Southeast Asia later.
An African version of Nick Jr. was launched on September 30, 2014 along with Nicktoons. In Poland, Nick Jr. is available on the newly formed NC+ digital satellite platform (started March 2013). In Romania, Nick Jr. is available on UPC Romania (since 24 October 2014). In Canada, Nick Jr. was launched as a programming block on the local version of Nickelodeon.
Versions of Nick Jr. also exist in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands & Flanders, India, France, Italy, Latin America, and Australia. On November 3, 2017, Nick Jr. launched in Portugal.