"The nite is young."
Nick at Nite (Stylized as nick@nite and commonly abbreviated to simply "@") is an American adult-oriented nighttime programming block that broadcasts over the channel space of Nickelodeon. It is programmed by its in-house production studios, Krusty Krab Productions, Paramount Animation, and Games Animation Inc. It broadcasts every night from 9 p.m.- 6 a.m. (Eastern and Pacific Time). It is similar in format to Adult Swim, the late-night block on Cartoon Network, The Bloo DeTour, the late-night block on The Bloo, and Teletoon at Night, the late-night block on Canadian TV channel Teletoon and features animated and live-action shows targeting a 13-21 audience. The block is marketed as a separate network from Nickelodeon k for ratings purposes, similar to the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network.
Debuting in 1985, Nick at Nite serves as the nighttime identity of Nickelodeon, and was established as alternative programming during the late-night hours when Nickelodeon's primary target audience, children between the ages of 7 and 15, would normally be sleeping. Starting in 1996, Nick at Nite made a shift in programming to animation made for adults. In 2005, the block was granted its own Nielsen ratings report from Nickeldoen due to targeting a separate demographic. The block features stylistically varied animated and live-action shows; including original programming, syndicated series, anime, original video animation, and short films with generally minimal or no editing for content.
Nick at Nite primarily appeals to adult and older youth audiences. Though looser in regards to profanity and suggestive dialogue compared to the network's daytime programming, the block is not as risqué or violent as other services targeting a similar audience.
The block has frequently aired classic live-action sitcoms, adult animation features, mockumentaries, sketch comedy, and pilots. The block's shows are known for their sexual themes, frank sexual discussion, nudity, strong language, and graphic violence. Many of its programs are aesthetically experimental, transgressive, improvised, and surrealist in nature. This has become a source of conflict, with some saying that Nick at Nite is too controversial, while others noting that its ability to question the norm brings a level of surrealism and experimentalism that is welcome. Nickelodeon has contracted with various studios known for their productions in absurd and shock comedy
Early years (1985-1990)
After the Hearst Corporation, NBC and ABC announced in the summer of 1984 that they would spin off A&E (which occupied the timeslot formerly occupied by the Alpha Repertory Television Service prior to its merger with The Entertainment Channel earlier that year) into a separate 24-hour cable channel and cease transmitting its programming over Nickelodeon's channel space to take better advantage of valuable satellite time, MTV Networks President Bob Pittman asked Nickelodeon general manager Geraldine Laybourne to develop programming for the time period (once A&E became a separate channel in January 1985, Nickelodeon ran text promos for their daytime shows during the night and started broadcasting 24 hours a day in June, though some cable providers substituted the primetime schedule of a niche-interest network that had no room on a system onto the channel space, with BET being among the most popular choices). After futile attempts at original program development, Laybourne asked programming and branding consultants Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert of Fred/Alan Inc. (successful as the original branders of MTV, and for Nickelodeon's extensive 1984 rebranding) to come up with programming ideas.
After being presented with over 200 episodes of The Donna Reed Show (a 1950s sitcom which Laybourne despised), Goodman and Seibert conceived the idea of the "first oldies TV network." They modeled the new evening and overnight programming block on the successful oldies radio format, "The Greatest Hits of All Time," and branded the block with their next evolution of MTV- and Nickelodeon-style imagery and bumpers. Head programmer Debby Beece led the team to the name "Nick at Nite" for the new block; a logo originally conceived for the block was based on Nickelodeon's "pinball" logo introduced in 1981, which was discontinued with that network's rebrand. Fred/Alan developed the original logo with Tom Corey and Scott Nash of Boston advertising agency Corey McPherson Nash, creators of the well-recognized Nickelodeon orange splat logo (Nick at Nite's logo design would maintain a separate visual appearance from its parent network).
Nick at Nite debuted at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 1, 1985, as a block on Nickelodeon. Its initial programming (running from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., seven days a week) was a mixture of sitcoms, movies and one drama series, led by Dennis the Menace, and accompanied by The Donna Reed Show, the offbeat comedy Turkey Television (which, like Dennis, also aired on Nickelodeon), and Route 66. A nightly film presentation, branded as the Nick at Nite Movie, aired at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time through the end of the decade, and included such classic films as the 1947 film The Red House and the 1937 film A Star Is Born. The same five-hour block of programs originally repeated from 1:00 a.m. and ran until Nickelodeon began its broadcast day at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time. As Nick at Nite grew, it would added to its library of shows – expanding out to rerun sketch comedy, such as episodes from the early seasons of Saturday Night Live as well as the Canadian series SCTV. It also briefly reran the 1970s mock local talk show Fernwood 2 Night. As the years went by, the channel's sitcom library expanded to over a hundred of shows. For the channel's 20th birthday celebration in June 2005, TV Land aired an episode from almost every series that had appeared on Nick at Nite.
By the early 1990s, Nick at Nite began running a full schedule of programming, with overnight hours filled with a mixture of secondary runs of shows airing on its evening schedule and series that were no longer shown on the evening lineup. In 1995, Nick at Nite celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a week-long event, in which the channel aired "hand picked episodes" of almost every series that had aired on Nick at Nite since its July 1985 debut. Each episode was introduced with its milestone history, episode number, and pop culture references to the individual program's original run on Nick at Nite. A special 10th Anniversary on-screen bug was shown at the bottom left corner of the screen for 10 seconds once per half-hour show, and was used for the entire 1995 year, much in the same vein as the 20th Anniversary logo in 2005 (in contrast, Nick at Nite did not make any acknowledgment of its 25th Anniversary in 2010)
During the 1990s, prime time animation geared at adults started growing popular due to the success of Fox's hit show The Simpsons. Said show was added to Nick at Nite in 1995.
Both Are You Afraid of the Dark? and The Ren and Stimpy Show were moved to Nick at Nite in 1993 due to the controversy of the extreme violence, imagery and gore that was seen in Afraid of the Dark? and the controversial episode of The Ren and Stimpy Show "Man's Best Friend".
IIn 1993. due to the success of Are You Afraid of the Dark and The Ren and Stimpy Show, Nickelodeon and Games Animation Inc set up a spin-off studio called Stimpy The Milkman Productions that would produce adult shows under the Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite labels. Its first show was SpongeBob: Coast to Coast in 1994.
This was followed by a trend of other adult-oriented animated shows throughout the decade, such as: Liquid Television, Beavis and Butt-Head, Æon Flux, The Brothers Grunt, Duckman, The Critic, The Maxx, King of the Hill, Daria, South Park, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Futurama, The Oblongs, Clerks: The Animated Series, Dilbert, Mission Hill, Home Movies, and Family Guy, and more; as well as more general-oriented animated series such as The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Animaniacs, Rocko's Modern Life, CatDog, The Angry Beavers, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Batman: The Animated Series, Ed, Edd, n' Eddy, and SpongeBob SquarePants, among others, that garnered strong adult followings
Durning the 1990’s, Nick at Nite was becoming a bit outdated due to its focus on reruns of mostly live-action sitcoms. Bloo J, Matt Chaudhary and the other staff at Nickelodeon were planning to reimage Nick at Nite to be similar to sister MTV due to the popularity of animated adult sitcoms once they stepped in as owners of Paramount’s animation division.
Spongebob Coast to Coast, one of Nick at Nite's first forays into original programming, was created in 1994 specifically for late-night adult audiences. The series was created by Stephen Hillenburg and Bloo J's Mr. Krabs Industries, which eventually became Krusty Krab Productions, the eventual producers and programmers of Nick at Nite.
1997–02: Classic TV era
The block made a breakthrough with two shows when South Park and SpongeBob SquarePants (despite the latter also having being produced for Nickelodeon) premiered in 1997, with both being huge hits that year. South Park was one of the first major basic cable shows to carry the TV-MA rating for mature audiences as the show was considered too controversial to be picked up by any mainstream network. A year prior, Nick at Nite was making a demographic shift to focus more on niche and adult content, with a heavily stylized branding to go with it. As word of mouth spread, the number of people who requested that Nickelodeon be added to their cable providers increased due to Nick at Nite.
2002–07: Rings era
2007-09: Grunge era
2009-15: Family Chaos era
2015–present: #NEWNICKATNITE era/Stylization Era
Main article: List of programs broadcast by Nick at Nite
Marathons and blocks
Branding and commercials
On April 29, 1996, Viacom spun off a separate network from Nick at Nite, TV Land (originally branded as "Nick at Nite's TV Land" until 1999), which features a variety of rerun programming; the channel is usually carried on the basic tiers of cable, IPTV and satellite providers. On December 17, 2006, TV Land ceased operating under the control of Nick at Nite as Nickelodeon began overseeing that service under the MTV Networks Kids & Family Group, though TV Land continued to be operated as part of Viacom's MTV Networks (now Viacom Media Networks) division. During its early years, the channel ran classic television series from the early 1950s to the 1970s. In 2004, TV Land began to incorporate sitcoms from the 1980s and 1990s; reality shows and weekly movie presentations were added as the decade progressed. However, much of TV Land's programming continues to include series from the 1960s and 1970s. While in 2017 its original programming efforts were made up of multi-camera sitcoms such as Younger and Teachers targeted towards a female Generation X audience, in late 2018, the former moved to Paramount Network and the latter was canceled. That decision was eventually reversed; cast members of Younger announced in April 2019 that Younger would remain at TV Land and Season 6 would premiere in June 2019.
April Fools' Day stunts
Nick at Nite has an annual tradition of celebrating April Fools' Day by tricking and fooling their audience by altering programs or airing different and obscure programs
- In 2001, the original airing of BFHFIF episode "Good Wilt Hunting Part 2" was moved up a week and instead another episode of BFHFIF, "Ren and Stimpy in Not Without My Eediot-acy" was aired instead as an April Fools prank, angering many.
- Starting in 2002, all of the regularly scheduled episodes were aired with random mustaches drawn on the characters or derp eyes drawn on the characters; however, the next night the episodes were aired again this time without the mustaches or eyes.
- On April 1, 2004, Nick at Nite had been advertising that it would be airing The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in its entirety on April Fools' Day. Technically, they made good on their promise by showing the first two minutes (which had long been available on the movie's website) full-screen and the entire rest of the film in a very small picture-in-picture window with its sound played over SAP during normal programming.
- In 2005, Nick ar Nite aired an early, unfinished version of The George Liquor Show pilot, instead of The Barnyard. Right after the rough cut, it was announced that the animated series would premiere later in July 2005
- In 2006, Nick at Nite aired old re-runs of various old Gamestoons with fart noises added to the dialog.
Merchandise and media offerings
Main article: List of programs broadcast by Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite primarily airs varied animated shows including original programming, syndicated series, short films, original video animation, and anime, generally with minimal or no editing for content. Any time when TV-MA rated shows would be airing (such as South Park, Mr. Meaty, New! SuperMarioLogan, and various adult party cartoons), they would have a content warning before the show with an announcer saying "The following is intended only for mature audiences. Viewer discretion advised." while there is a TV-MA rating above.