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Cartoon: Kids Play Across Platforms

New York— At its Valentine’s Day upfront presentation, Cartoon Network executives spoke sweetly about kids’ love for its multiplatform vehicles and how advertisers could shower them with sponsorship reach and affection.

Cartoon executives extolled the virtues of its continued push into digital with broadband networks Toonami Jetstream in July and the Cartoon Network Video, which began screening original-series episodes in the fall. Together, the services generate 20 million monthly video streams.

Cartoon’s online gaming services, meanwhile, collectively attracted 2 billion game plays in 2006. No doubt, there will be more with the introduction of Gadget Games, which features a Web cam so players can get inside the contests; and Mini-Match, which aspires to spawn a safe social world where kids create their characters and challenge each other.

Senior vice president and general manager of new media Paul Condolora demonstrated CallToons, a new endeavor integrating smart technology with the voice of Cartoon Network characters on mobile phones. The product is expected to be available in the fourth quarter.

On the programming side, the focus will remain largely on boys 6 to 11, where Cartoon said it leads the way with a 43% share. All told, Cartoon’s largest output ever will yield 662 new half-hour episodes of returning series and two dozen new premiere movies, including Ben 10-Live-Action Movie, driven from the popular series, and specials.

Among the latter: the multimedia Props, in which 16 kids, engaging in sports, music, art or hobbies, will be profiled this summer on-air and online, leading to a one-hour TV show in September for six finalists.

Senior vice president promotions marketing Phyllis Ehrlich said that as was the case when Andre Benjamin’s Class of 3000 bowed last year, Cartoon will back its upcoming specials via an array of sponsorable vehicles that could encompass online, video streaming, video-on-demand fare, podcasting, sweepstakes, customized spots and even on-pack or in-store tie-ins.

Five new series are also on tap: Santo (working title), based on the legend of a real-life wrestling hero; Chowder, about the misadventures of a very hungry young chef’s apprentice; The Secret Saturdays, centering on scientists who protect against the world’s terrifying things; The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, in which a boy inside a whale heads for a magical dessert-ed island; and Re-Animated, based on the network’s first animated/ live-action film.