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Nick Throws Parties to Push 'Kids' Choice'

Nickelodeon is melding its pro-social agenda with a promotion for its popular Kids' Choice Awards, creating viewing parties for charitable groups in three major markets.

The network partnered with affiliates Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles, Comcast Corp. in Boston and Bright House Networks in Orlando, Fla., to organize the April 1 events.

The network suggested Boys and Girls Clubs of America chapters as the beneficiaries because the network has a long-term relationship with that group, according to Juliette Morris, vice president of affiliate sales and marketing.

Nick also brought in a corporate sibling, National Amusements, controlled by Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone. The theater chain will provide the venue in Los Angeles and Boston.

“This is a new strategy for us and comes out of a constant commitment to create partnerships with our affiliates,” Morris said. The events will be strictly viewing parties, with the possibility that future parties could be incorporated into the on-air event through remote cameras.

In Los Angeles, Time Warner has arranged for 175 children to attend the party at The Bridge: Cinema de Lux, part of the former Cinerama Dome landmark theater complex, now owned by National Amusements. This market was selected because the awards show originates from Pauley Pavillion on the University of California at Los Angeles campus.

Comcast will drive traffic to its customer-service centers in Boston by requiring that 200 club members pick up their tickets to the event there, scheduled for the Showcase Cinemas Woburn. Boston attendees will get an extra entertainment bonus: Ryan Coleman, star of Nick's All That, will perform a set with his new band, Karisma.

The nation's largest cable operator was rewarded for its overall support, including its decision to carry online content on its Comcast.net portal, such as a nominees special available in The Fan video-on-demand area. After the party, the awards telecast will be made available to the broadband portal for on-demand viewing.

The network selected Orlando for the third party, to take advantage of its relationship with Holiday Inns. The event there, for 200 kids, will be held at the Nickelodeon-themed hotel, Nickelodeon Family Suites.

At all sites, the network will use the time in advance of the cablecast to treat the audience to a preview of the third season premiere of Romeo, scheduled to debut later that night. Children at all locations will get premium-filled swag bags as they depart.

The viewing parties are in addition to other promotions. TurboNick, the broadband service within Nick.com, is offering a nominees playlist, along with clips from past award shows. Free promotional podcasts are available at the network's site, as well as through third-party vendors such as iTunes.

The party strategy could be expanded to more markets next year if it proves successful. That success will be gauged on interest from affiliates and the targeted charities.

This year's response indicated that those two goals have been met, Morris said. “Now we just have to see if the kids enjoy it,” she added.