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Free 'House Of Anubis' Episodes Garner More Than 1 Million iTunes Downloads

Nickelodeon's bold experiment to offer free on iTunes the 20-episode first season of its drama/mystery series House of Anubis has yielded more than one million downloads, according to network executives.

While most cable networks will offer one or two free episodes of a series for download to iPods and iPads as a promotional tactic, Nickelodeon, in an unprecedented move for the network, uploaded every episode of the teen drama/mystery series on iTunes last month in an effort to build up momentum for the series' second season premiere on Monday (Jan. 9.) Since its Dec. 19 debut on iTunes, the series has generated more than 1.2 million downloads, according to network officials.

Steve Youngwood, executive vice president and general manager for the Digital Nickelodeon Group said the unusually long 6-month gap between the end of the serialized series' season one finale and Monday's sophomore season launch prompted the network to look for unique ways to not only re-introduce the series to fans but to hopefully draw more of its core 12-18 audience to sample the show.

"In the multi-platform, closest-available-screen world that everyone lives in, we are seeking ubiquitous exposure ... the best way to market House of Anubis is to let people watch House of Anubis," he said. "The content serves as a more effective marketing tool than any kind of specific commercial message."

Along with the free downloads on iTunes, Youngwood said series episodes are also available on Netfix and the network's website.

Once new, daily episodes of the series launch next week, all House of Anubis episodes will be available on iTunes at the traditional $1.99 price for standard definition downloads. Youngwood said the network will offer via Nick.com weekly video recaps throughout the series' second season to give viewers an opportunity to keep up the show's storyline.

Youngwood said the network will consider using the iTunes free season marketing strategy for other new shows in the future. For now, Nick will offer free on iTunes the premiere episode of its new music-themed series How To Rock two weeks before the show's Feb. 4 debut on Nickelodeon.

"Every show is unique, but ultimately the best way to market a show is to let people see it," Youngwood said.