Nickelodeon welcomed upfront ad buyers to the Palace Theatre, the current Broadway home of its SpongeBob SquarePants musical, to trumpet a message about its programming: More is on the way.
Viacom’s top-rated kids’ network, whose ratings have faltered recently amid heightened competition for junior eyeballs, said it will deliver more than 800 new episodes of new and returning shows in 2018-2019, a 20% increase over last year.
Highlighting the programming are reboots of well-known classics from its past, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Blue’s Clues, a second season of Lip Sync Battle Shorties and a stream of social-optimized short-form content. Also on tap are new virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, summer family event Nickelodeon SlimeFest and new game shows including Keep It Spotless and live-action comedy Knight Squad.
“With our share growing and content pipeline in overdrive, we are reinventing ourselves to best serve the new and next generation of audiences on new and next-generation platforms,” said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon Group. “Kids are both our anchor and North Star, and that bond with the audience allows us to connect to them everywhere.”
During the upfront, Zarghami previewed the network’s upcoming content slate. The roster includes a development deal for Los Casagrandes, a brand-new companion series for animated series The Loud House, new UK animated series Pony and Musical Dares, a new short-form series created and executive produced by Nick Cannon, and the first project by Viacom Digital Studios for Nickelodeon’s YouTube channel. The 2D-animated Pony is the first series greenlit for the U.S. by Nickelodeon International.
For preschoolers, in addition to the dominant PAW Patrol and returning Blue’s Clues, the slate includes Abby Hatcher, Fuzzly Catcher, Butterbean’s Café, Fashion Ally. (working title) and The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera (working title).
The network also reviewed plans to continue expanding its footprint through innovative new partnerships and technologies. Today, Nick announced a new partnership with IMAX to bring to SlimeZone–its first multi-player, social VR experience–to select IMAX VR Centres globally this month. Plus, Nick is unveiling a brand-new AR mode for its number-one Sky Whale mobile gaming app, which averages two million active monthly users and has garnered nearly 30 million downloads.
Nickelodeon also announced movies and tentpoles including specials Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim. It will broadcast the HALO Awards in November and on March 24 will air the 2018 Kids’ Choice Awards, hosted by John Cena, who also cast a large shadow during the upfront event.