Armed with renewed support from parent MTV Networks and its first-ever general manager, digital network Nicktoons will relaunch Oct. 6 with an updated look and new, original shows.
After sitting on the sidelines while other MTV Networks-owned diginets such as MTV2 received more attention, Nicktoons is now in a position to garner the group's marketing and promotional resources, Nickelodeon executive vice president Cyma Zarghami said.
Eyes 17M mark
Currently in around 5 million homes, Zarghami said MTVN is now in negotiations with MSOs to close deals that would put Nicktoons in as many as 17 million homes by year-end.
Since debuting in 1999, the service has been a repository for aging Nickelodeon animated series, such as Doug
and Angry Beavers. But Nicktoons recently named vice president and general manager Keith Dawkins said the service would eventually feature new and original animation as it looks to strike home with kids aged 6 to 14.
Network executives maintain that original programming will help Nicktoons gain a leg up on diginet competitors ToonDisney and Boomerang, which features mostly library fare from progenitors Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, respectively.
Beginning Oct. 6, the network will also bow two originally produced vignettes that will bridge the breaks between shows. Johnnie Talk
will feature an animated character that interviews people who have worked on Nicktoons, while Stuff'd
will focus on the lives of stuffed animals in a wooded cabin that come to life when human hunters leave.
Nicktoons plans to premiere five new series by 2004 — two originals and three acquired shows.
By 2005, original programming will represent 25% of its lineup.
"There's a great opportunity out there for all types of animated work [that] hadn't seen the light of day," said Dawkins, who previously served as supervising producer for VH1. "I think Nicktoons represents an opportunity to get that stuff on the air quickly."
Added Zarghami: "We will have an original channel for the next generation of animation and also create a potential feeder for the Nickelodeon mothership as well."
As Nick rolls out more episodes from its current series stable such as SpongeBob Square Pants, Jimmy Neutron, The Fairly OddParents
and My Life as a Teenage Robot, Nicktoons will be the primary outlet for the network's still popular shows such as the Rugrats.
A new look
Along with new programming, Nicktoons will also receive an on-air facelift, with a new logo and on-air graphics created by a division of Klasky-Csupo, the studio that created such cartoons as Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, As Told by Ginger
and Rocket Power.
By incorporating film and design techniques and using light in new and interesting ways with Nickelodeon animated characters, viewers will see their favorite characters in completely new ways, according to Nick executives.