There’s no clear formula for building an international hit, but Nickelodeon certainly tried to stack the deck on this one—combining an emerging star with prolific tween comedy creator Dan Schneider to create live-action Victorious. A year after its March 2010 debut on Nick US, the series rates number one on the broadcaster’s feeds in the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Korea, Mexico and Singapore. And MTVNI is now launching the show in syndication to international terrestrials, which to date total 15, including TF1 (France), Italy (RAI), FOUR (New Zealand), Megavision (Chile) and ATB (Bolivia).
Building the buzz Victorious follows the experiences of teen Tori Vega and her friends at a Hollywood Arts High School. Nickelodeon sweetheart Victoria Justice—with whom viewers were already familiar from her three seasons on Zoey 101, Nick’s TV movie Spectacular! and a guest appearance on iCarly—leads the cast as Tori.
“Given the buzz around Victoria and the fact that Dan was behind it, we set up the show internationally with an eye toward it being our next big hit,” says Steve Grieder, EVP of Nickelodeon and program sales for Viacom International Media Networks.
The series debuted after Nick’s 2010 Kids’ Choice Awards broadcast, which Grieder says ranked as the second-best live-action premiere the channel has seen after Big Time Rush. Its regular time premiere in March 2010 brought in 3.5 million viewers, topping all basic cable programming in its slot with kids six to 11 and tweens nine to 14.
Along with the ensemble cast, Justice sings, dances and performs original music, which under the guidance of series co-pro partner Sony Music, is also being released into the pop music universe. The series’ companion website, TheSlap.com, has an on-air presence and so doubles as a community site for both viewers and the characters. It’s chock-full of gossip and status updates from the fictional characters and gives fans an opportunity to comment, take polls and play games.
Taking the pulse Based on the initial appeal of the show after its post-KCA debut, Grieder says the US team began crafting a strategic rollout plan to make Victoria and the other cast members a part of kids’ lives internationally.
“We are looking to pulse a show in a particular way,” says Grieder. By that he means treating the rollout of new episodes, TV specials, social media efforts, games and CD releases as events that get kids excited about the new content and gives the channel a hook on which to hang other initiatives.
For example, in June, Nick aired iParty with Victorious, a 90-minute special that brought the iCarly and Victorious universes together to draw 7.3 million total viewers in the US.
Free-to-air Grieder says Nick orchestrates its presence on free-to-air channels as a partnership. Before the show bowed on France’s TF1, for example, the Nick and Sony Music teams met with the channel to explore how they could present the brand to French viewers. TF1 is a market-defining platform in France, and Grieder says it followed Nickelodeon’s footsteps in educating the local viewership, sharing information and teasers early on to build awareness of the show leading up to its debut.
More Victorious The on-air pulse marketing will continue with new episodes and TV specials early next year, along with the expansion of the Victorious merch program. Master toy licensee Spin Master debuted a line of girl-skewing products at New York Toy Fair last February, and back-to-school merchandise will hit international retailers this fall.