Kids contributing to Nick

'iCarly' keys on original content

Nickelodeon unveiled a new series at its upfront presentation Thursday that integrates content created by real kids into the show's scripts.

Dubbed "iCarly," the live-action comedy series centers on its lead character, "Drake & Josh's" Miranda Cosgrove, who plays Carly, hosting a Web show. As host, Carly will encourage viewers to post originally created content to a specified Web site as it relates to the context of each show. That content will be either part of a future "iCarly" episode or included in Carly's webcast.

The series, which has been greenlighted for 13 episodes, is set to launch in September on Nickelodeon.

"We feel like the digital generation of kids has really sort of emerged, and we're spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to seamlessly connect that to what we're doing with all of our content on all of our platforms," said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group, noting that the transition of television to the Web and vice versa will deliver a richer emotional bond with the audience.

"iCarly's" involvement of kids is intended to reflect the more interactive way youngsters are now experiencing entertainment, and it joins other recently launched initiatives by the Nickelodeon brand with the same aim.

In February, Nickelodeon launched the ME:TV programming block, which highlights user-generated content from kids, while the virtual world Nicktropolis, launched in January, enables kids to enter an online universe designed for them.

Nicktropolis has surpassed 1 million registered users and boasts 2.4 million visits and more than 70 million page views. Nick.com registered its greatest number of unique visitors since its inception with 16.8 million. For its part, Nickelodeon's broadband platform TurboNick showed triple-digit increases since February 2006 and calculated more than 77 million streams.

This month, all of Nick's branded sites will feature new content and cater to fans of Nickelodeon's 20th annual Kids' Choice Awards with a three-hour live streaming event on TurboNick, among other KCA features spread across its Web entities.

Also Thursday, Nickelodeon said it is planning to air more than 700 new episodes of new and returning series throughout the 2007-08 season. The network has picked up second seasons of the live-action series "The Naked Brothers Band" and "Just Jordan," ordering 13 more episodes of each. Returning series "Zoey 101" also got an order for 13 more episodes.

In addition, Nickelodeon is adding three new animated series to its 2008 schedule: "Making Fiends," which was developed from TurboNick, where it appeared as a series of shorts, and "The Umizumiz" and "Bubble Guppies," both of which are interactive series aimed at preschoolers.

Nickelodeon also is ordering more episodes of animated series "SpongeBob SquarePants" (13), "The Fairly OddParents" (20) and "Dora the Explorer" (14 episodes and three hourlong telefilms).
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