New York -- Vowing not to let recent ratings woes stop its programming creativity, Nickelodeon announced the development of more than 650 new episodes of original series as part of its upfront presentation here Wednesday.
Stating that the network is "in fantastic shape," president of Viacom Inc.-owned Nickelodeon Group Cyma Zarghami told advertising executives gathered at Jazz at Lincoln Center that the network has been the top-rated cable network for 17 straight years (on 24-hour basis) and the network is "not planning to give that up."
The upfront featured performances by Cymphonique Miller and Gravity 5 (How to Rock), boy band Big Time Rush and former The X Factor competitor Rachel Crow.
"Brands with real equity survive and thrive in times of change," she said. "Our brand has a strong history and a lot to be proud of."
She also said the network's recent ratings slip, which has been on the decline since mid-September and has allowed competitor Disney to overtake the network in the key kids 6 to 11 and challenge Nick for supremacy among kids 2 to 11, will not affect the network's aggressive original programming push.
"We have no intention of letting a recent slip in Nickelodeon ratings slow down our creative momentum," Zarghami said.
Among the new programming developments for Nickelodeon on the animation side is the April 14 launch of animated series The Legend of Korra, a sequel to the network's popular Avatar: The Last Airbender. Other new projects include Raving Rabbids, based on the popular video game of the same name; Monsters vs. Aliens, based on the characters from the 2009 film; and Robot & Monster, a CG-animated buddy comedy.
The network will also develop new episodes of existing series T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kung Fu Panda, Legends of Awesomeness, The Penguins of Madagascar, The Fairly OddParents and The Winx Club. SpongeBob SquarePants will also receive a new batch of episodes as well as a full-length, stop-motion animated Christmas special, the network said.
On the live action front, the network has greenlit a 26-episode run of Marvin, Marvin, starring Lucas Cruikshank (Fred: The Show) as an alien teen living with a human family and trying to fit into life on earth. Cruikshank will also star in a third Fred movie -- Fred Goes to Camp -- as well as in additional episodes of Fred: The Show.
The network also has development projects for UK pop music group One Direction; iCarly stars Jennette McCurdy and Jerry Trainor; veteran actor Scott Baio; and The X Factor star Crow.
Nickelodeon will also develop original movies Rags, a musical rags-to-riches story starring KeKe Palmer and produced by Nick Cannon; and A Fairly Odd Christmas, a sequel to the 2011 live action TV movie based on the popular animated series.