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Nick US unveils content pipeline for 2014-2015

MUMBAI: US kids broadcaster Nickelodeon held its annual upfront presentation at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, where Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami detailed the network’s biggest content pipeline ever: 10 new series across every genre, and for every platform—all tailor-made for the tastes of today’s post-millennial generation of kids.

Zarghami also announced plans for the forthcoming Nick Jr. App, featuring TV Everywhere capability, and the brand-new, live tent-pole event, Kids’ Choice Sports—the first-ever expansion of the highly successful Kids’ Choice Awards franchise.

Nickelodeon’s presentation was also punctuated by remarks from Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman; an appearance by Kids’ Choice Sports 2014 host and executive producer Michael Strahan; and a closing musical performance from five-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles.

Zarghami said, “Our mission has been to create and deliver funny content that will resonate with today’s kids, and we are well-positioned to do that through our schedule of fresh hits, a deep pipeline of new series, tent-pole events, ratings momentum and innovation on all platforms. Nickelodeon is a magnet for creative people and projects, and we’re incredibly excited about the new pool of talent we’re bringing to our audience in front of and behind the camera.”

Nickelodeon has posted 13 straight months of year-over-year growth and reclaimed the top spot with kids in 4Q13. The network is home to top-rated animated series like ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’, ‘Sanjay and Craig’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and the newly launched ‘Breadwinners’; live-action hits like ‘Sam & Cat’, ‘The Thundermans’ and ‘The Haunted Hathaways’, among others; and TV’s top-rated preschool series ‘PAW Patrol’, ‘Dora the Explorer’ and the just-launched ‘Wallykazam’.

The network’s creative energy has been buoyed by its relevance to today’s new generation of kids and its ongoing research into the audience’s tastes and perspectives. Kids today are markedly different from other generations in that they are extremely close to their parents, with 80 per cent wanting even more time spent with them and 93 per cent citing their moms as the people they trust most. Nine in 10 kids say they are happy, and 96 per cent believe they can accomplish anything if they work hard enough. They believe that being different is more important than fitting in, and most (80 per cent) would choose being really smart over being really good looking. They also highly value being funny, ranking laughter as more important than vacation, family meals and holidays.

Nickelodeon president content development and production Russell Hicks said, “Comedy is what today’s kids want above all else, and it’s what they expect from Nickelodeon. We have had a clear goal to let their tastes and preferences inform our creative choices, and we’ve tailored our new content to make the most relevant and funny content just for them.”

Across every genre—animation, live action, preschool and events—and for every platform, Nickelodeon’s pipeline of new content includes:

Animation:
•Bad Seeds (26 episodes) – Harvey, a sweet and well-meaning bird, makes two new best friends, Fee and Foo, the wildest imps in the forest. Although their friendship seems unlikely, their connection only grows as they push each other out of their comfort zones and into endless adventures. Created, written and directed by C.H. Greenblatt (SpongeBob SquarePants, Chowder).

•Pig Goat Banana Cricket (26 episodes) – This show features a series of absurd interwoven stories about four friends and roommates, Pig (the fool), Goat (the artist), Banana (the wise-guy) and Cricket (the brain). The series is created by Dave Cooper and J. Ryan, and executive produced by David Sacks (The Simpsons, Regular Show) who co-writes with J. Ryan. Cooper also art directs the series and the pilot was directed by independent animator Nick Cross.

•Welcome to the Wayne (6 episodes) – Launching on the Emmy Award-winning Nick App, Welcome to the Wayne, is a comedy following the adventures of two 10-year-old boys Olly Timbers and Ansi Molina as they explore their crazy apartment building, the Wayne. The series was created and written by Billy Lopez (The Wonder Pets!).

• The network will also roll out new episodes of returning hit animated series, including, SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sanjay and Craig, Breadwinners, Rabbids and The Fairly OddParents for the 2014-15 season.

Live Action:
•Henry Danger (20 episodes) – Created and written by hitmaker Dan Schneider (iCarly, Sam & Cat) and Dana Olsen (George of the Jungle, Inspector Gadget), this brand-new crime-fighting comedy features 13-year-old Henry (Jace Norman) who lands a part-time job as Danger Boy, a sidekick-in-training to super crime fighter Captain Man (Cooper Barnes, The Perfect Host). Their colorful adventures throw Henry’s otherwise ordinary life absurdly out of balance, yet he must keep his new job a secret from his best friends Charlotte (Riele Downs, The Best Man Holiday) and Jasper (Sean Ryan Fox).

•Bella and the Bullfrogs (12 episodes) – This new live-action comedy follows a perky head cheerleader named Bella (Brec Bassinger, The Haunted Hathaways) whose life in Texas takes an unexpected twist when she becomes the new quarterback for her school’s team the Bullfrogs. Bella is joined by “The Troy” (Coy Stewart, Are We There Yet?), the Bullfrogs’ dethroned quarterback along with his pint-sized sidekick, Newt (Buddy Handleson, Wendell & Vinnie). Rounding out the cast are Lilimar Hernandez as Bella’s cheerleader best friend, Sophie, and Jackie Radinsky as true southern cowboy, Sawyer.

•Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn (13 episodes) – Created by Matt Fleckenstein (iCarly, Victorious, Drake & Josh) and executive produced by Fleckenstein and Michael Feldman (See Dad Run), this new half-hour comedy is the story of a 10-year-old girl Dawn Haley (Lizzy Greene) whose sibling rivalry with her three brothers is heightened by the fact that they are quadruplets. Aidan Gallagher (Modern Family) plays the germaphobic Nicky, joined by Casey Simpson (The Goldbergs) as the overachieving, Ricky; and Mace Coronel (Bold and the Beautiful) as the pint-sized ladies’ man, Dicky. Brian Stepanek (Two and a Half Men) and Allison Munn (What I Like About You) star as the Haley parents.

•Nickelodeon will also premiere new episodes of its live-action lineup, including ‘Sam and Cat’, ‘The Haunted Hathaways’ and ‘The Thundermans’.

Preschool:

•Dora and Friends: Into the City! (20 episodes) – Dora and Friends: Into the City! is a brand-new animated preschool series featuring the iconic character Dora in new adventures, with new friends and a new interactive curriculum. The series is set in a fictional, pan-Latino city, where Dora is 10 years old, in school and at the center of a peer group that works together to give back to the community—having both real-life and magical adventures along the way. As always, Dora is an adventurer, a good friend and problem-solver. Dora and Friends helps teach Spanish and introduces new educational areas to the curriculum, including social-emotional skills like community service and peer relationships. Dora and Friends is created by Chris Gifford and Valerie Walsh Valdes (Dora the Explorer), and will launch late-summer on Nickelodeon.

•Blaze and the Monster Machines (20 episodes) – This original CG-animated series, debuting this fall, introduces preschoolers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This is the first preschool show that features a curriculum dedicated to all areas of STEM. Viewers will join an eight-year-old boy named AJ and his incredible monster truck Blaze on super-sized adventures. AJ and the viewer help Blaze as they explore the physics of how things move, master mathematics and discover how everyday technologies work. Blaze and the Monster Machines is created by Jeff Borkin (Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues) and Ellen Martin (Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans).

•Shimmer and Shine (20 episodes) – This brand-new animated series follows the magical adventures of fraternal twin genies, Shimmer and Shine, who unintentionally create chaos while attempting to grant wishes for their human best friend, Leah. The new series features an emotional-intelligence curriculum that highlights mistakes as an important avenue to learning and doing better next time. ‘Shimmer and Shine’, set to premiere next year.

•Fresh Beat Band of Spies (20 episodes) – In this brand-new animated series based on the live-action show, The Fresh Beat Band, the four best friends — Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout – are also a group of undercover spies. The pop band uses their individual talents and the coolest transforming spy gadgets to outwit a goofy cast of bad guys and solve an endless series of wild and wacky mysteries. The series, which teaches problem-solving to preschoolers, is created by Nadine van der Velde and Scott Kraft, the same duo behind The Fresh Beat Band. Fresh Beat Band of Spies is currently in production and will premiere on Nickelodeon in 2015.

Multi-platform:
•Nickelodeon actively programmes all of its screens together, and two new multi-platform initiatives include the Nick Jr. App and the My Nick Jr. interactive channel. Launching next month, the Nick Jr. App follows the 2013 introduction of the Nick App—which has received more than eight million downloads since its debut last year and will feature among its exclusive content the brand-new, digital series Welcome to the Wayne. The Nick Jr. App is an experience designed for preschoolers and incorporates signature Nick Jr. interactivity, discovery, and surprises. The app will feature high-level interactivity and educational entertainment activities; offer short-form video and curriculum-based content, and with authentication, access to full-length on-demand episodes and live-streaming of Nick Jr., the 24-hour network from Nickelodeon dedicated to preschoolers and moms.

◦My Nick Jr., which is rolling out this spring in the US, is an authenticated, multi-screen experience that lets parents customise a playlist for their kids on television, desktops and tablets. The new offering allows parents to create a channel by age, gender and educational themes, featuring all the smart and fun preschool content from Nickelodeon like ‘Dora the Explorer’, ‘Team Umizoomi’, and ‘Bubble Guppies’. Parents can also choose the duration of each viewing, pause content on one device and resume playing it on another.

Events: Kids’ Choice Sports 2014:
• The creation of Kids’ Choice Sports 2014 adds to Nick’s schedule a fourth live tent pole that presently includes TeenNick HALO Awards, Worldwide Day of Play and Kids’ Choice Awards, which is now in its 27th year. Live from LA this July, Kids’ Choice Sports 2014 is the first-ever expansion of its iconic Kids’ Choice Awards franchise and will be one big, slimy sports celebration from a kid’s point of view. Onstage at the upfront presentation, legendary Super Bowl Champion and host of top-rated Emmy-winning morning talk show LIVE with Kelly and Michael, Michael Strahan highlighted his role as the show’s host and executive producer, and detailed that this new addition will honour kids’ favourite athletes, teams and sports moments. In true Nickelodeon spirit, Kids’ Choice Sports (KCS) will also feature a daring, slime-filled sports stunt performed on a star athlete’s home turf, a special halftime live musical performance and top athletes competing outside their sports realm for a KCS trophy.

Nickelodeon’s 2014 upfront presentation was capped with an exclusive performance from five-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, who performed her hits ‘Brave’ and ‘Love Song’ and her latest single ‘I Choose You’.