Nick to Launch Video Podcasts

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New York -- Nickelodeon held its upfront presentation at the Nokia Theater here Thursday morning.

Video podcasts for various “TEENick” shows will launch next week, starting with Zoey 101, followed by the Kids’ Choice Awards and movies. They will be available on Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store (www.itunes.com) and Nick.com (www.nick.com). The latter, over the course of 2006-07, will also be home to “New Game of the Week” titles.

Nick also announced a trio of films: Nacho Libre, featuring Jack Black, in June; Barnyard in October; and Charlotte’s Web, showcasing the voice talents of Julia Roberts, in December.

On the small screen, Nick and Nick Jr. will premiere more than 127 hours of original programming during the upcoming TV season with pickups from such ongoing series as Drake & Josh, LazyTown, SpongeBob SquarePants and Go, Diego, Go!.

Upcoming new series include: The Lil’ JJ Show, a live-action series featuring the actor/comedian as a 15-year-old trying to right injustices toward kids; El Tigre, a Mexican-folk-art-inspired animated series with a spaghetti-Western twist; and Downward Doghouse, an animated series for Nick Jr. featuring a five-year-old Chinese-American girl named Kai-lan who will introduce preschoolers to aspects of Chinese culture.

Additionally, Nick executives talked up Mr. Meaty, which was developed from the TurboNick broadband platform, where it appeared as a series of shorts. The series is set in a fast-food franchise and focuses on the likes of teen-age slackers Josh and Parker, who plan to escape from minimum-wage monotony.

The kids’ kingpin also ordered 15 episodes of Tak and the Power of JuJu, a computer-generated-imaging adventure comedy developed from the video-game series.

Mr. Meaty and Tak are examples of content emanating from and then migrating to a variety of platforms that Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids and Family Group, has been extolling. The group was officially restructured last month to place even more emphasis on the development of digital content.

During the presentation, Zarghami said that with the next generation of kids being “platform-agnostic,” Nickelodeon -- which currently reaches kids through 15 different platforms in 100 countries -- is investing millions of dollars in nonlinear platforms. “We need to be on the platforms that kids want,” she added.

Those outlays include the launch of an animation laboratory called “Inkubators,” based at the company’s studio in Burbank, Calif. There, the lab will develop original animated contest for broadband, wireless, portable video devices, online and gaming.

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