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Nick, Cartoon Reach Hasbro ‘VUGO’ Deals

Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are the latest cable content providers to offer programming for download to portable media players, having reached a deal Monday to license such shows as SpongeBob SquarePants and Dexter’s Laboratory to toymaker Hasbro Inc.’s new “VUGO Multimedia System.”

The two kids-targeted networks will provide programming for downloading to Hasbro’s $120 portable media player for $2.99 per episode. That price point is higher than the $1.99 Apple Computer Inc.’s “iPod” is getting for The Walt Disney Co. shows like Desperate Housewives and That's So Raven and $2 more than what DirecTV Inc. is charging for same-day downloads of NBC Universal programming like Monk and what Comcast Corp. is asking for from consumers accessing CBS shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation via video-on-demand.

Via the VUGO.com Web site (vugo.com), Nickelodeon will make available episodes from such shows as SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, Jimmy Neutron, Unfabulous, Romeo!, Rugrats, Rocket Power and Teenage Robot.

Cartoon will provide episodes from such skeins as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Dexter's Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, Ed, Edd n Eddy and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.

“As the No. 1 entertainment brand for kids and the top-rated television network for tweens, we’re excited to bring Nickelodeon’s leading properties -- including SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom and Unfabulous -- to the launch of VUGO, ” said Stephen Youngwood, senior vice president of entertainment products for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products, in a prepared statement.

“In addition to reaching Nick fans on-air, online and through new technologies including mobile-telephone content, VUGO offers us a new path to serve tweens, wherever they may go,” he added.

The hand-held VUGO Multimedia System, developed by Hasbro’s Tiger Electronics division, features a 128-megabyte hard drive, which can hold up to about one hour of video programming, although its memory can be expanded with a memory card.

Along with downloading programming from the computer using a standard universal-serial-bus connection, the portable player can also record TV programs directly from the television.

“We are thrilled to have alliances with both Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon as Tiger Electronics continues to deliver the kind of exciting, must-have entertainment that our tween audience loves,” said Brian Goldner, president of Hasbro’s U.S. toy segment, in a prepared statement.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.