NEW YORK, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Nickelodeon today at its annual upfront previewed its strategy to serve the new generation of post-millennial kids; introduced a line-up of brand-new animated and live-action comedy series from new creative voices; outlined plans for new, innovative content development platforms; and presented a new slate of educational preschool programming. Hosted by Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami, the presentation was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Among the new animated projects introduced were: Sanjay & Craig, an animated series about a boy and his best friend--a snake--whose creative team combines two first-generation Nickelodeon creators Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (The Adventures of Pete & Pete) with first-time Nickelodeon creators and co-executive producers Jim Dirschberger, Jay Howell and Andreas Trolf; and Breadwinners, whose creative team (animator Gary "Doodles" DiRaffaele and writer Steve Borst) came from Nickelodeon's Animation Shorts Program and features two booty-shaking ducks who operate a bread delivery service out of their awesome, jet-fueled rocket van. Additional new animated projects include the previously announced Rabbids and Monsters vs. Aliens. Nickelodeon is also picking up a third season of its hit animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which bowed in 2012 as the number-one new animated series with boys 2-11.
In live-action, two new family comedy series were announced, including The Haunted Hathaways, created by veteran comedy writer-producer Robert Peacock (Reba, The Jeff Foxworthy Show) in his first Nickelodeon show, about a family who moves into a house in New Orleans, LA, only to learn it's already occupied by a family of ghosts; and The Thundermans, from Jed Spingarn, who most recently served as co-executive producer of the hit Nickelodeon series Big Time Rush, about the sibling rivalry between twins in a family of superheroes. These series join the previously announced live-action series Sam & Cat and the recently launched Wendell & Vinnie.
A robust slate of original new educational programs for preschoolers was also introduced, including Wallykazam!--Nickelodeon's first literacy show for preschoolers that embeds the curriculum into a rich narrative story with the goal of helping and inspiring kids to read; Blaze and the Monster Machines, which is the first-ever preschool series that features a curriculum dedicated to all areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and follows the adventures of an 8-year-old boy and his monster truck; and Dora and Friends, a spin-off from the original creative team behind megahit Dora the Explorer, which stars the Latina heroine as a 10-year-old who goes on adventures in the big city with a group of new friends.
In addition, Zarghami outlined Nick's commitment to researching the newest generation of kids, the post-millennials, born between 2005 to present, as well as how the network is reinventing its development process and pipeline and innovating on new platforms. The presentation also included a look at Nickelodeon's just-launched Nick App–which now ranks as the number-one title on the Entertainment App list and the number-two title on the Free App list in the iTunes Store, approaching 400K downloads. Also detailed were: a new live afternoon daypart, Nick Studio 10; announcements about new sketch-comedy workshops for live-action development; and a partnership with Brian Robbins' AwesomenessTV online site.
"We have reorganized our development process in a way that allows us to make content smarter and faster than ever before, tailored specifically for this first generation of post-millennial kids," Zarghami said. "Our research tells us that for them funny is a badge of honor, and because funny is in Nickelodeon's core DNA, we believe our position will ensure our success with them."
In a surprise appearance, actor Josh Duhamel took the stage to highlight his role as host of Nickelodeon's 26th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, which will air Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Duhamel was later joined by Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman; and the presentation was capped off with a musical performance by Interscope recording artists OneRepublic, who performed their latest hit single, "If I Lose Myself."
Details of Nickelodeon's new content slates include:
- Sanjay & Craig–The 20-episode series tells the story of two best friends--one of whom is a snake--and the true adventures of being a kid. Voice actors include: Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock) as Sanjay; Chris Hardwick (Nerdist, Back at the Barnyard) as Craig; Tony Hale (Arrested Development) as Mr. Noodman; Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks) as Megan; Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) as Vijay; and Grey DeLisle (Fairly Odd Parents) as Darlene. Sanjay & Craig is created and co-executive produced by Jim Dirschberger, Jay Howell (character design for Bob's Burgers) and Andreas Trolf, and executive produced by Nickelodeon alumni Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Alvin and the Chipmunks).
- Monsters vs. Aliens–Inspired by DreamWorks Animation's 2009 blockbuster feature film ($383 million worldwide gross), this new series follows the further adventures of the beloved monsters -- B.O.B., the gelatinous blob without a brain; Link, the prehistoric fish-man; Dr. Cockroach, the half-man/half-insect mad scientist; and Susan (aka Ginormica), the incredible growing woman — as they learn to adapt to a new world filled with bizarre aliens. This series, which is greenlit for 26 episodes, marks the third partnership between Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation.
- Rabbids–This series brings to television the hysterical physical comedy that is the hallmark in Ubisoft's wildly successful Rabbids video games. Irreverent, unpredictable and silly, the Rabbids are a mysterious breed of rabbit-like creatures that explore, and often wreak havoc, in the human world. Everything is a source of wonder and amusement, and these indestructible and uncontrollable creatures have absolutely no respect for the social rules that govern society. For them, there are no laws, no rules of the road. It's all about having fun and saying "Bwaaaaaah!" Nickelodeon has secured global broadcast rights for 26 new half-hour CG episodes of Rabbids, which will be produced by Ubisoft.
- Breadwinners – Created by Gary "Doodles" DiRaffaele (MAD, Metalocalypse), who was discovered from Nick's 2012 Animated Shorts Program, and Steve Borst (Teen Titans Go!, MAD), Breadwinners follows two booty-shaking ducks as they operate a bread delivery service out of their awesome, jet-fueled rocket van. The series was picked up for 20 full-length episodes.
- Nickelodeon has renewed its Animated Shorts Program, as a further commitment to produce hit animated content for kids. Last year, more than 600 pitches were collected during Nickelodeon's inaugural program. From the pitches, 12 were created and five are in series development. All 12 shorts will air on the network, or appear on www.nick.com or on Nickelodeon's new app, which launched Feb. 21.
- Nickelodeon also announced a third season pick up of its hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, which was 2012's number-one new animated program with boys 2-11 across all TV. Season two is currently in production.
- For the 2013-14 season, the network will also roll out new episodes of returning hit animated series, including season two of The Legend of Korra, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents, Winx Club, T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Robot and Monster.
- The Haunted Hathaways–Life in The Big Easy gets a little more complicated and way more spirited when the Hathaway siblings (Amber Montana, Breanna Yde) and their mom (Ginifer King) move into a house already occupied by a dad (Chico Benymon) and his sons (Curtis Harris, Benjamin "Lil P-Nut" Flores Jr.) who happen to be ghosts. Created by veteran comedy writer-producer Robert Peacock (Reba, The Jeff Foxworthy Show), The Haunted Hathaways is executive produced by Boyce Bugliari & Jamie McLaughlin (Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures). The series will begin production on 20 episodes this spring.
- Wendell & Vinnie–A brand-new, live-action family comedy featuring Jerry Trainor (iCarly) in his first starring and producing role, this series follows 30-year-old Vinnie Bassett (Trainor) living the life of a carefree bachelor, when he suddenly becomes the legal guardian of his precocious, wise-beyond-his-years nephew, Wendell (Buddy Handleson, Shake It Up) forming a hysterical odd-couple family dynamic. Nicole Sullivan (Rita Rocks, MadTV) also stars as Vinnie's older unlucky-in-love sister, Wilma, with Haley Strode (Gangster Squad) as Vinnie's newly divorced neighbor and love interest, Taryn. Wendell & Vinnie, which has received has received a 20 episode order. The series airs regularly on Saturdays at 8p.m. (ET/PT).
- Sam & Cat –In this comedic spin-off from award-winning creator and executive producer Dan Schneider (iCarly, Victorious, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101), Sam & Cat stars Jennette McCurdy (iCarly's Sam Puckett) and Ariana Grande (Victorious' Cat Valentine) reprising their roles from their respective hit shows. The series features the pair as unlikely roommates and best friends who become teen entrepreneurs by starting their own after-school babysitting business. Sam & Cat is currently in production on 20 episodes in Los Angeles and will premiere this fall.
- The Thundermans–The Thundermans are a typical suburban family who happen to have astounding superpowers. At the center of the action are the 14-year-old Thunderman twins, Max (Jack Griffo) and Phoebe (Kira Kosarin), who share the same bathroom, the same school and the same annoying younger siblings. Their only difference? Phoebe is a super student with a super sunny disposition who super looks forward to being a superhero someday, and Max aspires to become a super villain. The 13-episode series will commence production this spring and is written by longtime Nickelodeon producer Jed Spingarn, who most recently served as co-executive producer of the hit series Big Time Rush and prior to that, produced on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Johnny Bravo.
- Nick Studio 10–This live, daily afternoon daypart features four friends who make and share outrageously funny content in real time. Beginning this spring, content created on the show will also migrate from on-air to the recently launched Nick App, and content from the app will also be featured on the series.
- Awesomeness (working title)–Nickelodeon is partnering with Brian Robbins (Smallville, One Tree Hill, Coach Carter) to co-develop a new half-hour sketch comedy show that features a mix of new and existing content from the extremely popular online site AwesomenessTV.
- Nickelodeon will also premiere more new episodes of its hit live-action series, including Big Time Rush, Marvin Marvin and See Dad Run.
- Dora and Friends–An original, animated Dora the Explorer spin-off, Dora and Friends: Into the City stars Latina heroine Dora as a 10-year-old who goes on city adventures with a group of new friends. Fantastical twists and turns abound as the stories take Dora and her friends into exotic magical worlds waiting to be explored. Dora and Friends features a curriculum that fosters a child's understanding of Spanish, teamwork, music and community service. The series has been picked up for 20 episodes and will launch on Nickelodeon in 2014.
- Wallykazam –This new animated series is Nickelodeon's first literacy show for preschoolers that embeds the curriculum into a rich narrative story, with the goal of helping kids fall in love with words and inspiring them to read. The original comedy follows the adventures of a boy named Wally Trollman and his pet dragon, Norville. Wally has a magic stick that makes words come to life and playfully transforms the world around him. Wallykazam! is currently in production on 26 episodes that will premiere on Nickelodeon in 2014.
- Blaze and the Monster Machines–This original CG-animated series 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. The series, which received a 20-episode order, will debut on Nickelodeon in 2014.
- Peter Rabbit–This new CG-animated series is a reimagining of the popular Beatrix Potter children's books based on the beloved Peter Rabbit character, which have sold over 250 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 35 languages. The series follows the adventures of Peter Rabbit and his best friends Benjamin Bunny and Lily Bobtail. Peter Rabbit features educational goals that encourage preschoolers to learn problem-solving and interpersonal skills, self-efficacy, resilience, positive re-framing and fosters an interest in nature. The series, which received a 26-episode order, launched on Feb. 19 and posted double-digit gains and won its time period across all cable with kids 2-5, adults 18-49 and total viewers.
During the presentation, Nickelodeon highlighted original research into the newest generation of kids, the post-millennials. The network's early profile of them reveals some of their unique connections to friends, family and funny, including:
- Post-millennial kids are part of a Velcro family–The post-millennials' parents are the Gen-Xers who are striving to right those perceived wrongs from their own neglected childhoods. Their kids, the post-millennials, are therefore more protected and sheltered than any generation before. No one is more important to these kids than mom and dad: 90% of them say their parents are their heroes; 80% say they want to spend more time with their parents; and the majority of the next generation says that family time is the first choice for how to spend free time.
- Post-millennials view friendship differently than their predecessors–Unlike millennials before them, friendship is not a game of numbers but is about shared trust among a small circle of people. While the post-millennials may have limitless cyber connections, they choose to have only 2 or 3 real friends in their lives.
- This new generation of kids speaks fluent "Grown-Up"–Post-millennials are included in the adult world, and they influence adult decisions. They understand how to keep the adults in their lives happy, and it makes them feel good about themselves. They speak fluent "Grown-Up."
- The post-millennial generation cares deeply about community–This new generation of kids has been exposed at a very early age to war, climate change and a poor economy, which has made their sense of compassion and desire to improve the world particularly pronounced. They genuinely want to make positive contributions and participate alongside one another in making the world a better place.
- Post-millennials have a strong affinity for comedy–Humor plays a pivotal role in the lives of post-millennials, uniting them with friends and family and playing a key role in how they view themselves. A majority of post-millennials (74%) describe themselves as funny, and as a descriptor, that rates as highly as being smart. Additionally, when it comes to spending time together as a family, this current generation of kids ranks laughing together higher than vacations, having a meal together and holidays. Post-millennials also consider being funny as a badge of honor, a commodity to be traded with friends, which brings them social currency.
Nickelodeon, now in its 33rd year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 18 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ :VIA , VIAB).