AP - Final box-office figures took a little wind out of the sails of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."
Warner Bros. on Monday revised down the film's weekend gross by $4 million, lowering it from the Sunday estimate of $170.1 million to $166.1 million. Such corrections are common, though the difference for "Batman v Superman" was slightly more than normal and had an effect on the film's place in the record books.
The movie's Easter weekend debut now drops a notch on the biggest North America openings ever list to seventh, sliding in behind "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." That film's $169.2 million opening also retakes its place as Warner Bros.' top debut.
It's nevertheless a massive launch for "Batman v Superman," which set a record for biggest pre-summer debut despite withering reviews. It made an additional $254 million internationally.
Debuting 14 years after the hit original, Universal's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" performed above expectations over the weekend, opening with $17.9 million.
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
1. "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice," Warner Bros., $166,007,347, 4,242 locations, $39,134 average, $166,007,347, 1 week.
2. "Zootopia," Disney, $24,022,288, 3,670 locations, $6,546 average, $241,431,697, 4 weeks.
3. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," Universal, $17,861,950, 3,133 locations, $5,701 average, $17,861,950, 1 week.
4. "Miracles From Heaven," Sony, $9,694,581, 3,047 locations, $3,182 average, $34,304,594, 2 weeks.
5. "The Divergent Series: Allegiant," Lionsgate, $9,435,173, 3,740 locations, $2,523 average, $46,540,669, 2 weeks.
6. "10 Cloverfield Lane," Paramount, $5,940,154, 2,802 locations, $2,120 average, $55,950,951, 3 weeks.
7. "Deadpool," 20th Century Fox, $4,897,941, 2,336 locations, $2,097 average, $349,371,907, 7 weeks.
8. "London Has Fallen," Focus Features, $3,027,568, 2,173 locations, $1,393 average, $55,716,425, 4 weeks.
9. "Hello, My Name Is Doris," Roadside Attractions, $1,668,806, 488 locations, $3,420 average, $3,236,570, 3 weeks.
10. "Risen," Sony, $935,025, 634 locations, $1,475 average, $36,029,172, 6 weeks.
11. "Eye In The Sky," Bleecker Street, $932,450, 123 locations, $7,581 average, $1,654,557, 3 weeks.
12. "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," Paramount, $900,104, 847 locations, $1,063 average, $21,326,169, 4 weeks.
13. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Disney, $816,484, 552 locations, $1,479 average, $933,674,012, 15 weeks.
14. "The Perfect Match," Lionsgate, $682,647, 658 locations, $1,037 average, $8,724,275, 3 weeks.
15. "Kapoor & Sons," Fox International Productions, $598,084, 153 locations, $3,909 average, $1,933,634, 2 weeks.
16. "Kung Fu Panda 3," 20th Century Fox, $561,768, 480 locations, $1,170 average, $139,416,825, 9 weeks.
17. "The Revenant," 20th Century Fox, $446,912, 506 locations, $883 average, $182,068,746, 14 weeks.
18. "The Young Messiah," Focus Features, $274,236, 874 locations, $314 average, $6,257,221, 3 weeks.
19. "Gods Of Egypt," Lionsgate, $273,030, 473 locations, $577 average, $30,219,399, 5 weeks.
20. "How To Be Single," Warner Bros., $250,442, 188 locations, $1,332 average, $46,386,135, 7 weeks.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Garry Shandling, who as an actor and comedian pioneered a pretend brand of self-focused docudrama with "The Larry Sanders Show," has died.
Los Angeles Police officer Tony Im said Shandling died Thursday in Los Angeles of an undisclosed cause. He was 66.
Im said officers were dispatched to Shandling's home Thursday for a reported medical emergency. Shandling was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Im did not have any details on when the call was placed or what the nature of the emergency was. He said police will conduct a death investigation.
Coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said his office did not yet have any details about Shandling's death.
The Chicago-born Shandling moved from a short stint in the advertising business to comedy writing and standup.
Then in the 1980s he began to experiment with TV comedy with his first series, "It's Garry Shandling's Show," a Showtime sitcom that called attention to its artificial nature with the actors routinely breaking the fourth wall.
In 1992, he created his comic masterpiece with "The Larry Sanders Show," which starred him as an egomaniacal late-night TV host with an anxiety-ridden show-biz life behind the scenes.
NEW YORK (AP) -- When playing songs from her upcoming sophomore album for her record label, Meghan Trainor heard this word from L.A. Reid: "No."
Reid, the veteran executive and Epic Records president, was referring to her first single. She didn't have one, he said.
Angry and upset, Trainor called producer Ricky Reed. They had collaborated on some of the songs she'd played for Reid, and in a day, they created "No," the anthemic, beat-driven, Destiny's Child-influenced hit that's a departure from her signature doo-wop pop sound.
Reid's thoughts: "Yes." More like yassssss!
"I wrote 'No,' and he was like, 'Give me five of these.' And we wrote five more songs," Trainor said in a recent interview. "It was such a relief, like I could sleep at night knowing I finally found the single. That's like the biggest stress for an artist, especially (for) album No. 2."
"No," which has already peaked at No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, isn't about L.A. Reid. It's a song about boys and female empowerment. Reed, frontman for Wallpaper and a producer behind songs for Jason Derulo, Twenty One Pilots and Pitbull, said creating the tune was like opening Pandora's box.
The other songs "were very great songs, but 'No' was really the catalyst for the rest of the album," Reed said.
Of the songs on her new album, 22-year-old Trainor says with a laugh: "Songs like that wouldn't exist if L.A. Reid didn't push me till I wanted to cry."
The new album, "Thank You," will be released May 13. Trainor has taken a more contemporary vibe compared with her 2015 debut, "Title," which featured the hits "Like I'm Gonna Lose You," ''Dear Future Husband," ''Lips Are Movin'" and the game-changer "All About That Bass."
The new songs are more confident and sleek, a reflection of Trainor, not just the singer, but also the person. In her "No" music video, which debuted this week, Trainor trades her colorful, bright backdrops, buttoned-up ensembles and schoolgirl dance moves for sexy gyrations, tighter clothes and an overall darker setting - in the vein of late '90s pop music videos.
"I'm learning (about) myself even more. I'm learning what clothes are comfortable and what I love and what makeup and hair (I like)," said Trainor, who has gone from being a blonde to redhead. "We changed everything and I'm very comfortable and all this promo isn't so scary anymore."
Reed called Trainor's new album eclectic. He said it includes soul, gospel, funk, soca and Nashville, Tennessee, influences.
Trainor said it will include Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote and produced "All About the Bass" and the majority of her debut album.
"We wrote similar to our old stuff, which I think was the problem when I sent this to my label like, 'This is dope.' And they were like, 'That's what they expect. You're not shocking us yet,'" she said.
Trainor, who has written for Rascal Flatts and Fifth Harmony, added that she has so many extra songs that she's sending them off to friends.
She has plans for a tour, and says her voice is "amazing" after surgery last year for a vocal cord hemorrhage. Though "Bass" was ubiquitous, she says the song "saved" her life.
"It gave me confidence. I didn't have much before. That song made me who I am," she said.
Trainor said winning the Grammy for best new artist earlier this year was the best day of her life.
"It told my young self you can be a pop star, you can do all the things you want to do and you don't have to be insecure or not confident about what you look like - all your dreams will come true."
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- Jesse Eisenberg didn't meet Ben Affleck on "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" until they were filming the party scene where Affleck's Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill's Clark Kent interact for the first time - a crucial moment before their superhero alter egos face off.
Even then, he didn't spend much time with either Affleck or Cavill, who he also barely knew. For one, he was too busy talking to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, who makes a cameo in the scene.
"I was so in my own world," he said.
Also, in portraying the eccentric, megalomaniac Lex Luthor who tears the two superheroes apart, he actually preferred meeting them in the spirit of the characters.
"It is funny working with guys like that. (They're) so massive and unusually attractive. It felt like I could push them around literally and annoy them and tease them and it would never really get to them. And they're also playing these powerful superheroes so it gave me more license to bother them," Eisenberg said.
The character of Lex Luthor is as essential to Superman as the red cape and the Man of Steel's ultimate earthbound foe has been played by everyone from Gene Hackman to Kevin Spacey. But this iteration neither looks nor sounds like any version of Lex that we're used to seeing. Instead of bespoke suits and the legendary bald dome, Eisenberg's Lex sports blazers, t-shirts and a wavy bob haircut (his idea). And while this millennial entrepreneur might be disarmingly intelligent and philosophical, he's also a spoiled brat at the core.
"He's like a child who hasn't yet been told how the world works and has a juvenile sense of propriety. If you take their toy away, the initial reaction is not anger, it's probably confusion," Eisenberg said. "He's a person who is struggling with real existential crises about his abusive childhood about his, let's say, perverse Freudian associations with Superman and his need for power in an unstable world."
The character he spends the most time with on screen though is neither Batman nor Superman but Holly Hunter's fictional U.S. Senator June Finch, who Lex sees as a potential ally.
Hunter described Eisenberg's Lex as volatile, complicated and emotional, and her character as the one bringing some "sense and sensibility" to the mayhem.
"It was a really fun ride to take with him," she said.
His spine-chilling facial tics and vocal flourishes can make even the simple offer of a Cherry Jolly Rancher somehow seem menacing, and it only escalates from there, which gave Eisenberg more room to play - especially as he continues to up the stakes.
"This is a character who becomes increasingly Machiavellian and unhinged," he said. "In this kind of part there was no ceiling. I could be as odd and eccentric and as vengeful as I wanted. I felt there were no limitations."
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A 9-year-old rock fan up late at a Bruce Springsteen concert had a note for his teacher if he was late for class the next day - and it was signed by The Boss himself.
Fourth-grader Xabi Glovsky and his dad Scott attended the sold-out show in Los Angeles on Tuesday and they caught Springsteen's eye with a homemade sign that said: "Bruce, I will be late to school tomorrow. Please sign my note."
After the show, Springsteen invited the pair backstage where they posed for photos. And Bruce scribbled a note for the Claremont boy's teacher.
The note said: "Dear Ms. Jackson, Xabi has been out very late rocking & rolling. Please excuse him if he is tardy."
Springsteen posted the photos and the note on his website.
Scott Glovsky told his hometown newspaper the note came in handy because Xabi woke up at about 10:45 the next morning "with a big smile on his face."
The father is a die-hard fan who has attended dozens of Springsteen concerts in the last three decades. He says he has been singing Xabi to sleep with Springsteen songs since he was born.
"I imagine that idols rarely live up to your expectations. Bruce lived up to every expectation a 9-year-old boy could have - or a 48-year-old boy could have," Glovsky told the Claremont Courier.
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- Ben Affleck might be Batman to his four-year-old fan-boy son, Samuel, but that doesn't mean he'll get to see his dad in action in "Batman v Superman" with the rest of the world when it hits theaters next week.
"Four years old is a little young to see this whole movie," Affleck said in a Friday interview. "I don't want him to have nightmares."
Affleck has often said he partly took on the role for his three kids - his son in particular. And from dressing up as the dark knight for Samuel's themed birthday party to tipping the FedEx delivery guy a few bucks to stage a fake fight just because Samuel believes that he's the Joker, it's a part that hasn't gone away for Affleck when the cameras stop rolling, especially with the starry-eyed youngster around.
Samuel has seen his dad in trailers for the film and whatever footage is available online, though, and, according to Affleck, those two-minute clips are basically "his whole attention span anyway."
Affleck said at the very least, his oldest daughter, Violet, 10, can definitely see the PG-13 rated film. In addition to Violet and Samuel, Affleck and Jennifer Garner also have a 7-year-old daughter, Seraphina. The couple separated last year after 10 years of marriage.
As for Samuel, Affleck said he'll be able to see some of "Batman v Superman" soon, even if it's chopped up.
"I'll have to con one of the editors into giving me a truncated version of the movie without some of the scarier stuff," he said.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Times Square will get even more crowded on Monday - and filled with even more fuzzy creatures - for World Puppetry Day, part of a national celebration for those who give life to animated objects.
Professional and amateur puppeteers and their puppets are invited for the celebration, joined by puppets from other Broadway and Off-Broadway shows past and present, including the profane monsters from "Avenue Q." A huge photo will be taken to mark the event.
Puppet parties are scheduled across the country, including at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, a 12-hour puppet building party in Seattle and a performance of "Peter and the Wolf" in West Liberty, Iowa.
World Puppetry Day was first celebrated in 2003 and was begun by Iranian puppeteer Javad Zolfaghari.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Michelle Obama showed off her vocal chops at the South by Southwest Music Festival but drew a round of disappointed sighs when she told the crowd she has no plans to run for president.
The first lady made her debut at the Austin showcase of buzzworthy bands and technology on Wednesday, sitting with Grammy winners Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott to talk about girls' education and empowerment.
But Mrs. Obama broke into song when reflecting on seven years in the White House. She said "time is almost up" before softly singing some of the Boyz II Men hit "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday."
Mrs. Obama says she'll most miss interacting with people as first lady - but says she has no presidential aspirations of her own.
"No, no. Not going to do it," she told the packed convention center crowd in liberal Austin.
She mentioned her teenage daughters, Malia and Sasha, as two of the main reasons.
"The daughters of a president. Just think about it. Come on, young people. Not so easy," Mrs. Obama said. "They've handled it with grace and with poise, but enough. Enough."
President Barack Obama opened the festival last week with a talk about civic engagement, becoming the first sitting president to attend SXSW in the festival's 30-year history. He weighed in on Apple's legal fight against the federal government over encryption, and told a crowd of tech enthusiasts that Republican lawmakers in Texas aren't interested in making voting easier.
Mrs. Obama steered clear of hot-button topics. She instead promoted her "Let Girls Learn" initiative, which encourages world leaders to provide education opportunities to an estimated 62 million girls globally who do not attend school.
She also says she won't disappear from public view or slow down once she leaves the White House next year.
"Sometimes there's much more you can do outside the White House without the constraints, the lights and the cameras, and the partisanship," Mrs. Obama said.
"There's a potential that my voice can be heard by people who can't hear me now because I'm Michelle Obama, the first lady. I want to be able to impact as many people as possible in an unbiased way to try to keep reaching people. I think I can do that just as well by not being president of the United States."
NEW YORK (AP) -- As news channels filled with pictures from the increasingly boisterous presidential campaign, broadcast viewers turned to the feel-good pairing of Steve Harvey with precocious kids.
NBC's new series, "Little Big Shots," led the network to a ratings victory during its first week on the air, the Nielsen company said. The comic Harvey is the host as talented youngsters - a 6-year-old spelling champ, a 4-year-old basketball phenom, a 6-year-old choir conductor - display their abilities.
The second episode of the series to air last week, on Sunday night, was the most-watched program on television with 15 million people. NBC premiered the show Tuesday night after "The Voice," and it reached 12.8 million viewers.
A repeat of that first show aired Sunday and also finished in Nielsen's top 20.
NBC averaged 7.3 million viewers in prime time last week. CBS was second with 6.5 million, ABC had 4.7 million, Fox had 3.4 million, Univision had 1.8 million, ION Television had 1.3 million and the CW and Telemundo tied with 1.1 million.
Airing wall-to-wall campaign coverage, two news channels were the top-rated cable networks last week. CNN averaged 2.97 million viewers, Fox News had 2.41 million, HGTV had 1.76 million, AMC had 1.73 million and TBS had 1.72 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.74 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 8.67 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.4 million viewers.
For the week of March 7-13, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Little Big Shots" (Sunday, 8 p.m.), NBC, 15 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 14.7 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 13.54 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 13.45 million; "Little Big Shots" (Tuesday), NBC, 12.81 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 12.53 million; Republican Presidential Debate, CNN, 11.81 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 9.83 million; "Survivor," CBS, 9.27 million; "The Voice" (Wednesday), NBC, 9.19 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.
NEW YORK (AP) -- "Indiana Jones" is swinging back into theaters with Harrison Ford reprising the iconic role and Steven Spielberg directing.
The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that the fifth film in the action adventure series will open July 19, 2019. The last "Indiana Jones" movie was 2008's poorly received "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which co-starred Shia LaBeouf as Indiana's son. It followed a nearly 20-year gap in the franchise after 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
Another "Indiana Jones" film has long been rumored, occasionally with whispers of different actors taking over the role from the 73-year-old Ford. But Spielberg has repeatedly insisted Ford would never be replaced. The actor's return as his famous fedora-wearing archaeologist comes shortly after reprising his equally iconic Han Solo in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
"Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can't wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019," said Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. "It's rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn't be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven."
The film, not yet titled, will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The lawyer representing "Pawn Stars" reality TV star "Chumlee" says he'll fight felony weapon and drug charges - and sex assault allegations if they're filed.
Defense attorney David Chesnoff told The Associated Press on Thursday that he's "looking forward to the truthful conclusion" of the case against Austin Lee Russell.
Russell posted $62,000 bail and was released from jail pending a May 23 court date.
Russell was arrested Wednesday after police say officers serving a search warrant in a sexual assault investigation found methamphetamine, marijuana and a gun at his southwest Las Vegas home.
The 33-year-old was booked on 19 drug-possession charges and one weapon charge.
Russell wasn't booked on a sex-crime allegation. Police said that investigation stems from a recent complaint by a woman, and is continuing.
NEW YORK (AP) -- It's hard to get excited about a cable box. It's basically a boring oblong you put on a shelf near your TV and never think of again unless your cable service goes out.
But it's at the center of a battle pitting technology companies and the government against the TV industry. The Federal Communications Commission wants to let you buy your own cable box in hopes of saving you money and getting you new features. The cable industry worries about losing the power to frame how you get your video - and with it, billions of dollars in revenue. Some in Hollywood also worry about losing advertising dollars.
Here's what you need to know about this dispute:
WHAT'S A SET-TOP BOX?
Early on, cable boxes were little more than descramblers intended to block channels you hadn't paid for. Although they still serve that purpose, they've evolved into mini-entertainment centers that can record and play back programs, handle video on demand and even tempt you with non-TV distractions. Comcast, for example, recently added video games.
Most TV subscribers today lease boxes from their TV service provider. A study released last year by Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, Democrats on a Senate subcommittee that oversees technology and communications, found that the average household spends about $231 a year on box rental fees. Although some boxes can integrate Netflix, most people need a separate device to watch online video.
WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT WANT TO DO?
The FCC wants to give you more options for buying boxes and using different TV-watching software, much the way you can currently buy your own phone or modem.
The tech companies and regulators arrayed behind this effort claim you'll see lower prices, more choices and technological advances as a result.
The new rules would force TV suppliers - companies like Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon Fios - to make available video and channel information to outside companies like Google, Apple and TiVo. They'd have to provide this data in a format set by an "open standards body," which the FCC says could include consumer-technology makers, cable companies, content companies, apps developers and consumer-interest groups.
HAVE THERE BEEN EFFORTS TO "UNLOCK THE BOX" BEFORE?
Yes, but they didn't work.
About 12 years ago, cable operators rolled out CableCards - high-tech cards you could stick in TVs or boxes sold by others, like TiVo, to negate the need for a cable box.
But cable companies initially had to install them for customers and had no incentive to make sure they were easy to get and activate, says John Bergmayer, an attorney at the public-interest group Public Knowledge, which supports the government's cable-box initiative.
A cable-industry vision from 2008, dubbed tru2way, also failed. The cable industry designed software for TVs that let them deliver cable without a box. But the technology didn't appeal to consumer-electronics companies and fizzled out, Bergmayer says.
BENEFITS FOR VIEWERS
With a device like an Apple TV, you could, theoretically, get all your video in one place: live cable channels, Netflix, HBO's app, YouTube. And the device would keep working even if you switched, say, from cable to satellite TV.
You could also see better search capabilities. New gadgets might let you do a single search for both TV channels and online services, which could help you find niche online video that cable companies don't carry. TiVo already offers such a feature, but you still need a CableCard or a box from a cable company that has partnered with TiVo.
Change is coming no matter what the FCC does, says Alan Wolk, an analyst with the Diffusion Group, a TV and media research firm.
Cable companies already have apps that let you watch TV on phones and tablets, and newer Internet-only offerings deliver channels through a streaming-TV gadget rather than a set-top box.
WHY ARE CABLE AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANIES RESISTING?
Besides losing fees from renting boxes, the cable industry doesn't want some intermediary in charge of video its customers get. For example, a box designed by Apple might make it just as easy to get video from Netflix, such that customers might question the need to pay for channels or cable's video-on-demand offerings. Cable companies now pay - and charge you - billions of dollars a year to carry these channels and programs.
Cable companies also worry that they wouldn't be able to help customers with technological issues and that new ads could interfere with the viewing experience. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that the rules would prohibit extra advertising, but he didn't offer details.
Some TV executives worry that instead of buying regular commercials on their channels, advertisers might migrate to targeted-ad opportunities if, say, Google builds a box. The TV executives also have raised concerns that tech companies could use data on your viewing habits in ways cable companies aren't allowed to.
Most subscribers today take a full-fledged bundle of hundreds of channels that can cost $70 or more a month. An analysis by bond-ratings agency Moody's says new set-top boxes, if successful with consumers, could pressure cable companies to deliver smaller, cheaper packages.
More choice might be good for you - but maybe not for companies dependent on your monthly bills.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Nickelodeon network will introduce series with football stars Cam Newton and Rob Gronkowski and broaden its mix of offerings as it deals with increased competition and changes in how children watch television programs.
Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning NFL MVP, will host "All In," a series where he will take kids on dream-fulfilling journeys.
Gronkowski, of the New England Patriots, will be the face of "Crashletes," introducing popular clips of sports action. Nickelodeon presented its upcoming programming ideas to a meeting of advertisers on Wednesday.
Another new series, "Jagger Eaton's Mega Life," will follow the 15-year-old skateboard star as he meets people around the world. Nick is also looking to expand "The HALO Effect," a series that profiles young activists.
It's part of Nick's shift away from a heavy emphasis in animation to different formats, including a focus on real kids. One of the network's most popular new shows, "Paradise Run," is like a youthful version of "The Amazing Race," said Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon chief executive.
This has been a rough stretch for Nick. The network's average viewership of nearly 2.5 million people in early 2011 was cut almost in half to 1.3 million last year, with an accompanying loss in advertising revenue. Riding high with "SpongeBob SquarePants," ''Dora the Explorer" and "ICarly" at the beginning of the decade, Nick had little else when these shows began showing age.
At the same time, children migrated to tablets, smartphones and other ways to watch what they wanted when they wanted. Streaming services like Netflix have become a boon to parents, and they are increasing their production of family-oriented series. PBS also announced last month that it is launching a 24-hour network of kids' programming.
"Kids are growing up with a plethora of channels and outlets to choose from," said Billie Gold, vice president and director of program research at Carat USA.
Nick is making its programming available through various formats, and the network feels comfortable it has a full pipeline of shows for the first time in many years, Zarghami said. Whatever the means of distribution, it's most important to make shows people want to watch, she said.
"Hits are hits everywhere, and you can show a hit across multiple platforms and you'll find it floating to the top," she said.
The idea of broadening Nick to have programming of different forms in essence returns Nick to what it used to be, she said.
One advantage Nick may soon be able to press is that kids who grew up on the network are now nostalgic for it or are becoming parents themselves. A few years ago Nick began "The Splat," a block of nostalgia-based programming online and on TV geared to millennials - an idea that some of the network's interns developed five years ago.
"We couldn't be in a stronger position at this particular moment," Zarghami said.
Nick has shown an ever-so-slight uptick in its ratings this year so far. Still, there's no underestimating the challenge it faces in appealing to a demographic that considers streaming something on a tablet just as natural as sitting in front of a TV.
"It's a tough road ahead as young eyeballs will most definitely continue to migrate to other platforms on their own time schedule," Gold said. "Nickelodeon still has a very strong kids' brand and its future likes in its ability to reach these viewers across these various platforms."