Children’s Network Ratings Dramatically Drop As It Ramps Up On Pro-LGBT Content

Child watching shows on TV

A decline in television and internet ratings for the ViacomCBS-owned Nickelodeon suggests that its campaign to increase pro-LGBT content on its platform did not work to bring in new viewers and instead has pushed existing viewers away. A report reveals that the children's network has lost up to two-thirds of its audience in the last four years.

According to the independent entertainment blog Pirates and Princesses (via Faithwire), Nickelodeon has seen a major decline in viewership since July 2017, when it had an average of 1.3 million to just an average of 372,000 in June 2021, calling it "catastrophically bad" that the children's network lost as much as two-thirds of its audience. Its response has been to capitalize on nostalgia and bring back older Nickelodeon shows such as "The Rugrats" and "iCarly," albeit with a pro-LGBT twist.

But Pirates and Princesses argues that such pro-LGBT content such in "The Rugrats" is not necessarily the answer to a dramatic ratings drop in one of the most recognizable networks for kids. The blog argued, "It's hard to see how a children's show about infants is best served in advertising when the news is all about sexuality."

What's worse for Nickelodeon is that it is also seeing a major decline in viewers on its YouTube videos. In fact, their videos were "downvoted to such a degree that they've now hidden the ratio." On any normal YouTube video, users can see how many people "liked" and "disliked" the video. Nickelodeon's channel appears to have disabled this function.

The Daily Wire reported that the dramatic drop in ratings is "particularly bad news" for ViacomCBS as it tries to beef up its streaming service, Paramount+ while trying to attract more viewers with its pro-LGBT content. Nickelodeon programs available on the streaming platform's library and the LGBT community appear to be keeping watch.

According to TVLine, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation or GLAAD released a "Where We Are on TV" report that complained about how there was a slight decrease in the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and queer characters in television today, which the report says is "due in part to how the pandemic sidelined many of the shows that reliably represent the LGBTQ community."

GLAAD decried the fact that the inclusion of LGBT series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series has dropped from 10.2% to 9.1%, a 0.9% difference that they believe was worth writing a report about. GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis demanded that "we expect to see real growth" following the COVID-19 pandemic when things return to normal.

"As a media company, we have the power to create real change," Viacom Global Consumer Insights SVP Christian Kurz said in 2019. "Viacom has been at the forefront of diversity for a very long time. It helps empower the organization to showcase stories and people in positive ways."

Nickelodeon had begun showing pro-LGBT content as early as June 2002, when it aired a program called "Nick News Special Edition: My Family Is Different," which featured children of gay and lesbian parents speaking about their experiences grwing up. In 2005, "Spongebob SquarePants" series creator Stephen Hillenburg responded to criticism that the show was "homosexual propaganda" by saying that the titlular character was asexual and not gay. In 2014, the show "The Legend of Korra" implied that the titular character was in a same-sex relationship. In 2016, an interracial gay couple was introduced in "The Loud House."

If anything, however, the drop in the network's ratings simply indicate that pro-LGBT shows aren't very appealing to many audiences anymore.