Riding on 18 consecutive months as the top-ranked kidsnet for both animation and live-action among kids ages six to 11, Nickelodeon has a lot to sing about as its 2018/2019 upfront presentation kicks off today from New York’s Palace Theater, home of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.
With more than 800 brand-new episodes of new and returning series, the kidcaster’s upcoming slate represents a 20% content increase versus last year—and Nick’s largest ever content pipeline.
On the preschool side, Nickelodeon owns eight of the top-10 shows for kids ages two to five this year with PAW Patrol in the number one spot. The kidsnet is also the top-ranked network for preschoolers year to date, a position it has held for four years running.
Along with premiering more than 300 new eps of returning hit shows including PAW Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Shimmer and Shine, and Nella the Princess Knight Nick has greenlit five new animated preschool series.
First up is a CGI-animated remake of the hit curriculum-driven, interactive series Blue’s Clues, which was originally created by Traci Paige Johnson, Todd Kessler and Angela C. Santomero. The new 20-episode order will bring back the show’s titular puppy. Casting for a new live-action host begins this month, and production gets underway this summer.
Abby Hatcher, Fuzzly Catcher, meanwhile, follows the adventures of a group of quirky characters called the Fuzzlies and is produced by Canada’s Spin Master Entertainment (PAW Patrol). The 26-episode show is punctuated by a social-emotional curriculum focused on empathy, compassion and problem-solving skills.
Last year’s upfront holdover Butterbean’s Café makes the official cut this year with a 40-episode order. Created by Jonny Belt and Robert Scull (Bubble Guppies), the series follows the cooking adventures of a fairy who runs a neighborhood café with her friends.
Another 40-episode order goes to Fashion Ally (working title), a girl-led show created by Paula Rosenthal and produced by Slivergate Media (Sunny Day, Peter Rabbit), while The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera (working title, 20 eps) follows the treasure-hunting adventures of a brave eight-year-old boy in a fantastical Caribbean world. This one is created by Niki Lopez, Leslie Valdes and Valerie Walsh Valdes (Dora the Explorer), with a Spanish-language and culture curriculum baked in.
New to the kids animated lineup, Los Casagrandes (working title) is a companion series to Nick’s top-ranked The Loud House that’s currently in development. The show centers on Lincoln Loud’s friend Ronnie Anne and his brother Bobby Santiago as they adapt to a new life in the city with their multi-generational family. Nick has also greenlit a fourth season of The Loud House, which will feature a six-episode story arc featuring the Casagrande family. Award-winning American cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz (Coco) will serve as a cultural consultant and consulting producer.
Rounding out the toon kids slate are original 2D-animated buddy comedy Pony— the first animated series to be greenlit for the US by Nickelodeon International—and the previously announced 2D-animated remake Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (26 episodes). Pony follows the life of a regular girl and what happens after a talking pony comes to live with her. It’s created by Ant Blades and based on a short of the same name from Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program.
More than 200 episodes of returning animated hits, including SpongeBob SquarePants and The Loud House, will also air this season.
On the live-action front, previously announced 20-ep competition series Keep It Spotless (executive produced by WWE Superstar Jon Cena) will bow later this month. The show pits kids in head-to-head physical and paint-filled challenges in a battle to stay clean. Keep It Spotless is produced by ITV Entertainment and Hard Nocks South Productions, and is based on a UK format from Possessed.
In other live-action news, hit competition series Lip Sync Battle Shorties, starring hosts JoJo Siwa and Nick Cannon, has been renewed for a second 10-episode season. Production is expected to begin in L.A. this summer.
Finally, previously announced comedy series Knight Squad premiered earlier this month. The series is created and executive produced by Sean Cunningham and Marc Dworkin, the duo behind The Thundermans. The network will also roll out more than 300 new eps of popular series including Henry Danger, The Thundermans and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.
In short-form digital content, Musical Dares marks the inaugural project by Viacom Digital Studios for Nickelodeon’s YouTube channel. Created and executive produced by Nick Cannon, this live-action game show offers a new twist on musical chairs.
Rounding out Nick’s slate are TV movies and tentpoles including Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim specials, as well as three major TV events—2018 Kids’ Choice Awards on March 24, Kids’ Choice Sports in July, and HALO Awards in November. For location-based experiences, Nick’s first US SlimeFest will launch this June.
As for Nick’s ongoing move into emerging tech, the kidsnet will launch a new augmented reality (AR) mode for its popular Sky Whale mobile gaming app, which currently averages two million active monthly users and has generated nearly 30 million downloads. Sky Whale is based on an app of the same name that was created by characters in the Nick series Game Shakers. The new AR iteration will be available this spring for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Nickelodeon has also released an AR app based on its popular “Do Not Touch” button found in the Nick App. Now available on the App Store, the Do Not Touch AR app features interactive surprises and mini games that highlight both Nickelodeon IPs and iconic trademarks like SpongeBob SquarePants, The Loud House, slime and the Kids’ Choice Awards blimp, plus original animations.
On the VR front, Nick has formed a new partnership with IMAX that will bring its first multi-player social VR experience SlimeZone from the company’s new R&D house Entertainment Lab to select IMAX VR Centers worldwide this month. Interestingly, Viacom announced last month that it will shutter its Viacom Next VR studio.
Apart from new series and tech innovation, Nickelodeon has also launched “That’s Me,” a new diversity-based brand campaign aimed to inspire and empower a new generation of girls. Beginning this week, Nick will launch a round of TV spots celebrating history-making women and highlights of Nick’s long legacy of creating and promoting strong female characters.