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'Naked Brothers' Goes Virtual

Nickelodeon is taking its latest live-action hit virtual, starting an online world for the Naked Brothers Band. In May, the network will expand its virtual world Nicktropolis to include a Naked Brothers area where kids can create a show-themed avatar, visit a mock recording studio and play music-themed games.

The virtual world, Nick's first for a live-action property, is part of a multiplatform expansion for the kids network's latest hit—which also includes a CD launch later this year, a May 28 UK premiere and a second season on U.S. TV slated to start production this summer.

Brothers, which focuses on two musical brothers and their band manager dad, premiered Jan. 27 as a movie and as a series Feb. 3 and has ranked as the network's top show with kids 6-11 since.

Original episodes of the show, Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., have averaged about 1.6 million kids 6-11 and all episodes, including replays, have averaged about 1.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. That makes it No. 1 with kids in its time period since its premiere and second only to Disney's Cory in the House when all plays of each series are included.

A DVD version of the Naked Brothers TV movie became a hot seller in retail outlets after being released April 3, with many stores selling out. While they're sticking to media extensions for now, Nick executives are in talks with the show's creators and its stars about additional consumer products.

Nick execs chalk up the mockumentary's quick rise to its funny tone and inspirational allure. Original plays of the show have drawn an audience with a median age of 10.5, smack between the ages of its rock star leads Nat and Alex Wolff, 12 and 9, respectively. With the coming departure of Nick's other music-focused, brother comedy Drake & Josh, Brothers' co-stars are poised to step in as the network's resident big shots.

“It just seemed to catch the imagination of our audience almost instantaneously,” says Tom Ascheim, executive VP/general manager, Nickelodeon Television. “This show's got this incredible mix of authenticity and humor, and it's that very hard-to-capture blend that they do so well. That's what struck a chord with our audience.”

Brothers has joined Drake & Josh, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Zoey 101 and Just Jordan in Nick's stable of hit live-action shows. The genre, along with hit animated series like long-running SpongeBob SquarePants, have helped Nick keep its spot as basic cable's top network in total-day programming with kids 2-11 for 12 years.

Year-to-date, the network averaged 1.2 million kids 2-11 in total-day programming, 38% more than Disney and 103% more than and Cartoon.

Nick has already made a major push with the show online—Naked Brothers Band is the No. 1 message board on with 4.8 million page views since its launch and its online game Ready To Rock has drawn 8.5 million game plays. On iTunes, the show's song “Crazy Car” has had 78,457 downloads. So the virtual world, which joins similar online areas for SpongeBob and others, was a natural extension to give fans more.

Says Ascheim, “Kids are clamoring to have a place where they can touch and feel them—almost like a fan club.”