03.03.17 Good morning. It’s Friday March 3, 2017 and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.
The Nickelodeon Upfront, held at NY’s Jazz at Lincoln Center and featuring an appearance by Gwen Stefani (see below) and performance by Pitbull, revealed a pipeline filled with nearly 700 eps of new and returning shows. Highlights include:
* A new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2D-animated series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (working title), launching fall 2018.
* A green light for The Adventures of Kid Danger and Captain Man (working title), a new animated series based on Nick’s top series, the live-action Henry Danger.
* A 10-episode series commitment to Lip Sync Battle Shorties, a spinoff of Spike’s Emmy-nominated global phenom. A quarter of kids who watched a special in December did so with their parents.
* A season 2 greenlight for Stefani’s Kuu Kuu Harajuku
* TV special and consumer products line based on performer, actress and social media influencer JoJo Siwa, of Dance Moms fame.
* A first look at Amusement Park, Paramount Pictures’ animated feature set for release in 2018 that will be followed by a Nickelodeon-produced TV series the next year.
* The second leg of the PAW Patrol Live tour
* The launch of SlimeFest, a multiday family festival of music and activities to debut in 2018.
The Kids Are Alright: With all the changes afoot at Viacom, CEO Bob Backish has made it clear Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. remain core components of the company’s brand DNA. “Flattering as it is, it’s a really smart business decision because Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. really do make up a large portion of the Viacom business, and allowing the rest of the organization to understand that that’s important is really great,” a visibly happy Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami told Cynopsis in a conversation before last night’s event, the most upbeat Upfront in several years.
Citing as a key strength the different demographics Nick serves, Zarghami said to expect deeper synergies within the Viacom family: “The connection of the brands to the movie studio will allow us to differentiate ourselves by creating a bunch of different labels that hopefully will produce great films that can move back and forth from television to the big screen to shortform on the digital platform and around the globe.”
Viacom is sitting with 63 percent of the available viewing in the kids market, Sean Moran, head of Viacom sales, told Cynopsis, which is translating into more opportunities for brands to engage across screens and events. Case in point, Moran says, the March 11 Kids’ Choice Awards are sold out in the studio category for the first time. The network is also deepening its relationships with nontraditional kids brands, including the petcare division of Mars Brands, a partner on PAW Patrol, KCAs sponsor Toyota, Walmart and P&G. “We now have CMOs from nontraditional companies that are looking to us to guide them as to where our consumer best digests their IP,” said Moran.
Zarghami said Nick is also drawing more apparent lines among its assets and partners. “Toyota has been at the Kids’ Choice Awards for a couple years now, and one of the things they love that we do with them is a live sliming in the middle of town. The whole organization either comes to it or tweets about it. And we just signed a deal with JoJo Siwa, from Dance Moms and a big social influencer, and she is part of the Toyota campaign at the moment,” she said. “So this idea that kids have influence in picking the car for the family, YouTube stars are their new role models, and Nick is home base for kids… put it all together and you have JoJo Siwa at a Toyota event as a sponsor of the Kids’ Choice Awards. It makes a lot of sense.”
Shari Redstone, vice chairwoman at Viacom and daughter of chairman emeritus Sumner Redstone, is pleased with Backish’s performance as CEO. “I said to my father, Bob Bakish is exactly the executive you want running the company,” she told Cynopsis, noting the energy level at the company is “way up, even for the talent and on the creative side where they may have felt stifled before.” And that enthusiasm spilled into the Upfront event. “The energy in the room was fantastic,” Redstone continued. “I’m so excited about the direction the company’s going in.” Redstone apparently is pleased with Nick’s content, too – that morning she’d watched a Paw Patrol marathon with her grandkids.
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With Nickelodeon’s pickup of a second season of Kuu Kuu Harajuku, Gwen Stefani’s bubblegum-hued show about the misadventures of a girl band, the multi-hyphenate artist is continuing her own television adventure born more than a decade ago, hatched in Australia in 2015 and launched in the States last October on Nick.
Although she initially conceived of the show when she was developing her Harajuku Lovers brand that accompanied her solo music debut in 2005, the timing of the television debut of animated incarnations of Love, Angel, Music, Baby and G makes perfect sense, she tells Cynopsis. “A lot’s happened since then. I have three kids now and we watch cartoons, and this plays into how I see this show,” said Stefani. “You look at life so much differently when you have children. I wanted to make a show for children that was a safe place for kids to be. It’s dangerous out there, even in cartoon land.”
Stefani also wanted to reflect the concepts of creativity and having a unique voice. “Creativity is one of the things that’s saved me in my life. So for these characters to help kids be able to celebrate whatever’s unique about them is so important… These girls all have their own personalities. It’s not harajuku in the sense that it’s not a direct reflection of harajuku in Japan. It’s a fantasy world. Anything can happen but moral of the story always is, here are five different girls that are completely unique, and when they come together they are even stronger.”
The show is produced in Australia, and while Stefani stays very involved with the brand, she’s enjoying giving the creative team plenty of rope. “This is different. With everything I’ve ever done before, I’ve done everything. In this case, I’m not an animator. And the writers have all these ideas and they’re amazing. It’s really fun to be a part of this group, they’re just all so good at what they do.”
Stefani’s also excited about her working relationship with Nickelodeon. “I would’ve been happy to have anyone interested in anything I do, but Nickelodeon has so much history; they’re all about this,” she says. “They know how to go and get your shows watched.”
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Disney XD ordered a second season of DuckTales, ahead of the animated comedy’s summer premiere. Matt Youngberg (Ben 10: Omniverse) serves as executive producer, with Francisco Angones (Wander Over Yonder) as story editor and co-producer, and Sean Jimenez (Gravity Falls) as art director.
Disney Channel’s Andi Mack launches Friday, March 10 on the Disney Channel app and on-demand platforms. Aimed at kids 6-14 and families, the story of self-discovery was written by Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire). The series makes its TV premiere Friday, April 7 at 8:30p.
PBS Kids launched the free Kart Kingdom app, designed for kids ages 6-9. Kart Kingdom features fun, educational games for players as they interact, craft and complete quests.
The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps opened its call for applications for the 20172018 school year. Students ages 1014 with a “nose for news,” a passion for writing, and a strong interest in journalism are encouraged to apply for a chance to have stories published online at the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website, as well as classroom magazines. Past reporters have scored interviews with the likes of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Tim McGraw, gymnast Gabby Douglas, Seth Meyers and more. Applications can be found at www.scholastic.com/kidreporters.
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