New Nickelodeon TV show to focus on math

Nickelodeon, whose pre-school television shows focus on teaching social skills as much as letters and numbers, is moving squarely into the academic realm with the introduction of “Team Umizoomi,” which it said is the only pre-school series focused entirely on teaching math to children, reports the New York Times. The half-hour show, a mix of animation and live action that has been in development since late 2005, will go on the air on Jan. 25 in the network’s midday lineup. Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon’s president, said the network saw an opening and took it. “Everybody’s trying to teach pre-schoolers how to read, and nobody is trying to teach them how to do math,” she said. The move puts Nickelodeon in competition with “Sesame Street” on PBS, which has math skills as a major component. “We’re not deliberately trying to get into their space, but I do believe the opportunity in this space has been left wide open,” said Zarghami. PBS’s “Cyberchase” is math-focused, but it’s aimed at older children, ages 8 to 12. Nickelodeon has ordered 20 episodes of “Team Umizoomi.” If it catches on, it also could open a new revenue source for the company, in ancillary educational products: Zarghami said Nickelodeon might introduce teaching videos, workbooks, and “learning tools that go with the show, as opposed to the more traditional toys and plush…”

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