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Nick Enterprises Gets License to Spike

Nickelodeon's consumer products and licensing unit will branch out beyond its own sphere, handling those disciplines for Viacom Inc. sibling Spike TV.

The unit will manage off-air and licensing activity for the rechristened TNN: The National Network, Nickelodeon Enterprises president Jeffrey Dunn said last Tuesday at the Licensing Show here. Male-targeted Spike, which rolled out its new name June 16, will take its first licensing steps with its Thursday night animation block, which premieres June 26.

Palisades Toys will develop action figures, figurines and resin statues for The Ren & Stimpy Show, the revived early '90s Nick hit, while Balzout will proffer Ren
T-shirts. Other deals are being pursued for the rest of the animation block: Gary the Rat, starring Kelsey Grammer; and Stan Lee's Stripperella. The initial Spike products should hit store shelves around fall 2004.

"We'll start with the animation block and go from there," said Dunn, following a preview of Nick's own product ventures at the Licensing Show. He also left open the possibility that the Nick division could later handle retail projects from other MTV Networks channels (aside from MTV: Music Television and VH1), including the recently acquired Comedy Central.

Nick Enterprises is "on track" to build about $3 billion in retail sales this year, Dunn said, a figure about 15% higher than the roughly $2.6 billion in revenue it generated during 2002.

Nickelodeon's shopping mall-themed presentation concentrated on news and licensing opportunities for animation series. Merchandise agreements covering such live-action Nick hits as The Brothers Garcia, All That
and Tania
are underway, but the preview was toon-skewed because "they lend themselves more to retail situations," Dunn acknowledged.

Two upcoming retail projects could evolve into Nick series, much in the way the feature film Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius
did. One is Tak and the Power of JuJu, a video game being prepared for release this fall. The other is EverGirl, a line of department store merchandise geared to tweens, which is slated to launch in early 2004.

Other deals

Earlier at the Licensing Show, Food Network set up a global licensing partnership with feature syndicate United Media. It will initially focus on Unwrapped, the channel's series about what makes favorite foods tick.

For its part, The Walt Disney Co. and Wal-Mart announced a merchandise line for Kim Possible, Disney Channel's animated series, to launch next month. The retail kingpin will offer the merchandise exclusively, with lunchboxes, sleepwear and soundtrack CDs among the available items.

Jim Forkan contributed to this story.