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'Avatar' Goes Online, Mobile

Nickelodeon is taking its animated hit series Avatar mobile, providing Verizon Wireless subscribers with exclusive, short-form video content from the series.

The move is part of a broad new-media promotional push leading up to the show's Sept. 21 third season debut on the kids' network, according to Nick executive vice president of original programming and development Marjorie Cohn.

Verizon V Cast subscribers this week will have access to an eight-minute special recapping season two of the show, which follows the journey of a young boy who is called upon to restore balance in a war-torn world.

In addition, Verizon V Cast users can also access short-form Avatar content drawn in a “super deformed” anime-based format, in which the character images are different than in the TV show.

In addition, Nick this week will run a trailer for the show's third season on its TurboNick.com and nick.com Web sites, as well as through Avatar fan sites avatarspirit.net and Distant Horizon (http://www.musogato.com/avatar/).

TurboNick will also devote an area of the site to the series, featuring sneak peeks of the third season, and will be the home for instant replays of each episode once it airs on Nickelodeon.

Cohn said the show's on-air popularity has spurred viewers' desire for more Avatar content, which the network can deliver online.

“This particular show, given the mythology and legend storyline, is the kind that fans want to take a deeper dive into the content, and I think the online experience is part of that and becomes vital to accessing the content the way they want to,” she said.

On-air support for the premiere will come from Nicktoons, which this week will air a marathon of seasons one and two, along with Avatar “extra” shorts interspersed between episodes.

The network hopes to build on the show's Dec. 1, 2006, season-two finale, which drew audience records for the series among total viewers (4.4 million), boys 9 to 14 (1.1 million) and tweens 9 to 14 (1.6 million).

While Cohn said the popular, male-skewing Japanese-based anime content was not the right fit for Nickelodeon, she said the Avatar franchise — which is being developed into a live-action motion picture — fills the void for the network's young male viewers.

“The great thing about Avatar is that it answers the need that boys have for action and deep storytelling, and it does it in a way that attracts girls as well,” she said.