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2011 Upfronts: Nick's Amping The Animation

Nickelodeon is very animated for a 31-year-old network.
The kids' kingpin, as part of its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on March 10, told media buyers of its plans to launch some 450 episodes of new animation over the next three years, including some 200 installments on Saturday mornings in 2012.
The network will also produce more than 100 hours new episodes of live-action fare, headed by a primetime movie melding the casts of hits iCarly and Victorious, and has ordered 125 new episodes of preschool shows, notably top-ranked Team Umizoomi and Dora the Explorer, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary.
The expansive programming slate comes as Nick executives say the network is poised to finish the first quarter in its perennial position as basic-cable's top performer in total day among kids 2 to 11 and 6 to 11 and total viewers, while posting its best quarter ever with the latter. (Commercial-free Disney Channel continues to set the pace among the 6-to-11 set in primetime, a streak that now has been extended to 305 consecutive weeks.) In 2010, Nick marked its 16th consecutive year as basic cable's leader among viewers and all kids demos, gauged over total-day.
Representing the largest amount of animation production in the network's history, the output encompasses a bevy of new series, including The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra (14 more, for a total of 26), a spinoff of Avatar: The Last Airbender; Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness (26 more that will double its total)--Nick's latest partnership with DreamWorks Animation; computer-generated show, Robot & Monster (26 episodes); and Winx Club, (52 episodes), an Italian import.
Moreover, the network will roll out the CG version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from Nick Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif. The show, featuring Jason Biggs -- who was at the presentation and engaged in banter, including "pie talk" with Jerry Trainor, the voice of T.U.F.F. Puppy -- as the voice of Leonardo, has been greenlit for 26 installments. The first is scheduled to appear in fourth quarter 2012.
Nick also has its sights set on fresh episodes of such series staples as The Penguins of Madagascar, Fanboy and Chum Chum, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. New installments of cultural icon SpongeBob SquarePants will also be drawn during this cycle.
Originating from its animation studios, Nick also plans to ramp up its Saturday-morning animation block this spring with a new look, original animated shorts, animated music mash-ups and celebrity guests. The presentation aspires to give viewers a sense for the process of how animation is created today and showcase the celebrity voice talent that come to the studio. Nickelodeon's Saturday morning lineup -- 8 a.m.-12 p.m. (ET/PT) -- has been the No. 1 destination for kids 2 to 11 for 11 consecutive seasons and currently delivers 3.2 million total viewers each week, according to network officials. Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, told upfront attendees that some 24 million kids watch some TV on Saturday mornings and Nick has drawn two-thirds of them over the past decade.
For all the talk of animation, Nick is certainly not neglecting the live-action arena. As mentioned, the network will integrate the casts of iCarly and Victorious as an original movie, iParty with Victorious, premiering on June 10. The telefilm centers on one cheating boyfriend and two scorned girlfriends, as Carly (Mirando Cosgrove) and Tori (Victoria Justice) plot sweet revenge, while the rest of the iCarly and Hollywood Arts crews compete in a lyrical battle royale. The movie, guest starring Nick alumnus Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, All That, Kenan & Kel), who was also in Nick's house at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as himself, culminates with an ensemble performance of the theme song mash-up, "Leave It All to Shine."

Nick's live-action efforts will extend to new installments of iCarly and Victorious -- Cosgrove and Justice appeared on stage together, with the latter opening the upfront with her first ever live singing performance, belting out "Begging on Your Knees," the video for which will debut on Nick on March 12. 

Moreover, Nick had lined up new installments of Big Time Rush, True Jackson, House of Anubis, The Troop, afternoon game show, BrainSurge, and Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, now celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Supah Ninjas, following three unsuspecting kids drafted into the secret crime-fighting world of ninjas, and Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures, a multi-camera, buddy series about two surfers and their quest for awesomeness, will join the net's lineup.