Facing Sluggish TV Ratings, Nickelodeon Looks to Shine on Stage

(Bloomberg) -- With kids’ TV in a ratings slump, Nickelodeon is looking to increase its presence on the stage.

The cable network, part of Viacom Inc., is expanding a relationship with Cirque du Soleil’s VStar Entertainment that will turn more of its franchises into theatrical shows. The five-year agreement will put characters such as Dora the Explorer and Paw Patrol on stage together for the first time, and VStar will be able to further mine Nickelodeon’s library for entertainment ideas.

Facing Sluggish TV Ratings, Nickelodeon Looks to Shine on Stage

Theater and ice shows for young kids have become big business. Nickelodeon teamed up with VStar in 2016 with an onstage version of its puppy-driven “Paw Patrol” series, and the shows went on to sell 3 million tickets worldwide. Cirque du Soleil, known more for acrobatics and other circus-style acts, acquired VStar in 2018 as part of efforts to diversify its operations.

The first show under the new deal, “Move to the Music,” will feature a mix of characters such as genie friends Shimmer and Shine. It will debut in the fall. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Nickelodeon’s TV ratings have been declining, though Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish said this week that there are signs of improvement.

Cirque du Soleil, a Montreal-based company that also owns the Blue Man Group, has built a war chest for acquisitions. It announced plans to acquire the Illusionists magicians troupe earlier this month.

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