Nickelodeon and Children's Television Workshop are teaming up to create the first channel of strictly educational programming for children.
The new network, called Noggin, will be offered to cable and satellite television distributors starting in January.
Commercial-free at the start, Noggin will air reruns of shows created by the two organizations, such as "Blues Clues," "Nick News," "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company." New programming won't be created until Noggin has been on the air for at least a year, executives said today.
Noggin's mission will be to help children feel good about being smart, said Herb Scannell, Nickelodeon's president.
"Too many TV networks pay lip service to the idea that television can be a place where children can learn and grow," Scannell said. "They say you can't make educational programming that kids will watch. We say, watch us try."
Noggin will be aimed more at preschool children at first and will mix in programming for older children later, he said. A Noggin Web site will start at the same time as the channel.
The new network won't affect CTW's deal to show first-run episodes of "Sesame Street" and other shows on PBS. It also won't change the schedule on the fast-growing Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom.
Executives wouldn't say how much money Nickelodeon and the nonprofit Children's Television Workshop were investing in Noggin, although it is a 50-50 partnership for the two companies. They also wouldn't say how much they would charge cable operators to carry the service, which is aimed at basic cable. One expert on children's television said she was enthusiastic about the pairing of two well-known names in the industry.
"The brand recognition of these partners is extraordinary," said Peggy Charren, founder of Action for Children's Television. "The only thing that can compete with it is Disney and Broadway."
Charren was heartened by Noggin's plans to be commercial-free and said she hoped it stayed that way. Scannell said only that those were the plans "right now."