Friday, March 19, 2021

Nickelodeon Upfront 2021 - Extra Coverage

Below is a selection of articles and interviews from and about Nickelodeon Upfront 2021. To read Nickelodeon's main Upfront 2021 announcement, click here. For NickALive!'s full Nick Upfront 2021 coverage, click here.

Nickelodeon Chief Brian Robbins on Franchise Push and the Upside (for Now) of Linear TV

The head of ViacomCBS Kids & Family unveiled Nick's biggest slate of originals ever at an upfront event Thursday.

Nickelodeon is gearing up for one of the busiest years in its four-decade history.

The kid-focused cable outlet will debut 20 new series and feature films in 2021 and '22, both on its own platform and on parent company ViacomCBS' recently launched streaming service Paramount+. The slate includes a dozen animated projects, several live-action series and four newly greenlit shows.

The slate, which Nickelodeon announced Thursday during an upfront presentation that took an animated trip through the "Nick multiverse," also leans heavily on linear TV: While high-profile projects like SpongeBob SquarePants spinoff Kamp Koral and an iCarly revival are debuting on Paramount+, the great majority of shows will debut on Nickelodeon, which Brian Robbins, president ViacomCBS Kids & Family, calls the "biggest reach vehicle" for Nick's core audience at the moment.

"We think the funnel of linear is the biggest funnel right now, and that's where we're putting the majority of our premieres and the majority of our weight," Robbins told The Hollywood Reporter. "That might shift over time, but today it's the most important reach vehicle."

As part of its upfront, Nickelodeon set premiere dates for previously announced series Rugrats (spring on Paramount+ and later on Nick), SpongeBob spinoff The Patrick Star Show (June on Nick), iCarly (summer on Paramount+), Big Nate (September on Nick), The Smurfs (October on Nick), and both an animated series and live-action movie based on Mattel's Monster High (both 2022 on Nick), among others.

Robbins' division is also leaning into franchises. In addition to the Rugrats revival and the two SpongeBob spinoffs, Nick will also have animated series Star Trek: Prodigy on Paramount+ later this year and a live-action Loud House holiday movie on Nick in November. ViacomCBS also recently announced the creation of Avatar Studios, which will develop series and feature films set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra.

Nickelodeon has also handed out renewals to Danger Force and Tyler Perry's Young Dylan and extended the first season of Side Hustle by six episodes.

The four new shows, all set to debut on Nickelodeon's linear channel, are:

That Girl Lay Lay (summer): Teen hip hop artist and social media star Alaya "That Girl Lay Lay" High (who has an overall deal at Nickelodeon) will star in a comedy from Will Packer Media and creator David A. Arnold (Side Hustle, Fuller House). She plays an avatar from a personal affirmation app that magically comes to live and navigates life as a teenager alongside her best friend Sadie. Will Packer and Carolyn Newman executive produce for Will Packer Media along with Arnold, John Beck and Ron Hart.

Warped! (fall): Set at a comic book shop, the series centers on the teens who work and hang out there. Kate Godfrey (All That), Anton Starkman, Ariana Molkara and Christopher Martinez star in the comedy from creators Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert, who executive produce with Kevin Kay.

The Hamster Show (2022): A preschool animated series from animation studio Nelvana (Esme and Roy, Bubble Guppies) about a crew of hamsters who fancy themselves protectors of their 8-year-old owner, whom they've mistaken as their king.

ZJ Sparkleton (2022): Also from Nelvana, the animated series follows a 10-year-old vlogger named Ruby who teaches her space alien friend ZJ about the ways of life on Earth while he tries to control his unpredictable powers. There's also a con-artist squirrel named Earl.

Robbins talked with THR about how he wants to position Nickelodeon in a multi-platform world and the lean into franchise programming. This interview has been edited and condensed.

You're touting the biggest slate of original programming you've ever had. Practically, what does that mean in terms of production lead time, marketing, all the machinery to get it launched?

I've been here two years and change now, and this is a long time in the making, because as you know animation takes about two years. All of this has come together at the right time, because not only are we proud to have a lot to talk about, but we also have a lot of places to put our content, starting with linear. That's still the biggest and most important platform for us, and it's the biggest reach vehicle still to reach kids.

With the launch of Paramount+, it gives us another mouth to feed, but more importantly, another great reach vehicle for kids and families.

How do you think of Nickelodeon now? Are you a network, a content company, a distributor, all of that?

I like to think of ourselves as a brand. We don't talk about ourselves as a network. We have a network business, but we're really a brand. I love to say that if a brand is a promise, then the promise of the Nickelodeon brand is our content. That's what we're focused on: making the best kids and family content that we possibly can. We're fortunate enough to start out with a brand that kids love and franchises that have been around a long time and are revered. It's a nice position to start with.

How much more consideration do you have to give now to which platforms shows should land on vs. even when you came to Nick in late 2018?

There's a definite strategy involved. To give you an example, Kamp Koral, our SpongeBob spinoff, premiered on Paramount+ at launch. But it wasn't just, "Let's move Kamp Koral there." It was, we're going to debut the next SpongeBob movie there, and for the first time ever the entire SpongeBob library will be available on an SVOD platform. So let's make it the biggest and best SpongeBob opportunity for those fans, and have it all there.

At the same time, we knew we were going to quickly follow with The Patrick Star Show in June. We felt like, let's put that on linear in June because at that point the first run of Kamp Koral will be over on Paramount+, and we'll debut that show for SpongeBob fans on linear and have a big summer event for our audience and give them a new show.

We look at each one of these things very strategically, and ultimately there's going to be a flywheel between Paramount+ and linear. We think the funnel of linear is the biggest funnel right now, and that's where we're putting the majority of our premieres and the majority of our weight. That might shift over time, but today it's the most important reach vehicle.

The lean into franchises and familiar IP is a companywide thing at ViacomCBS, but what does that  mean for Nick? A kid might not know Rugrats, but their parents probably do.

Correct. Each one of these franchises is different. A franchise like Rugrats, we're bringing it back, and it's twofold. We know that the nostalgic parent of today who grew up on Rugrats years ago is probably going to be excited to introduce that show to their kids. And a franchise like SpongeBob, kids are still watching it and excited to get more and a different version. So each of these gets a different strategy.

What we're blessed with at Nickelodeon is a really great collection of franchises, whether it's SpongeBob or Ninja Turtles or Avatar or Star Trek, now, or Rugrats, Blue's Clues or Paw Patrol. These are all big franchises for kids and families, and we're going to continue to make sure these franchises live on all platforms in different iterations. … We want our brand and our content to be ubiquitous, and we want to reach kids in whatever way they're consuming, when they're consuming. If you have a child, you know that's in so many different ways.

Why did it take so long to spin off SpongeBob?

When I first got to Nickelodeon, one of the first meetings I was asked to be in … was a SpongeBob pickup meeting. I joked, "Yeah, like I'm gonna be the guy who comes in and cancels SpongeBob." But we go into the meeting, and they hand me the budget and the plan, and I asked a question: It's been 20 years — has anyone thought about doing anything else with this great cast of characters? I didn't really get an answer, but that was the jumping off point to explore it. There are so many amazing characters in SpongeBob. … It's just an amazing collection of stories and characters. So we went from there.

How do you see your live action strategy evolving?

Live action is still very, very important, even though consumption has changed and obviously, with as many SVOD platforms as there are now, there's a lot more choice in the live action space. I think it's very important for us to have stars, real life kids, on our air. And I also want Nick to be more than just one thing. We've had a long history of making some really successful live action shows, and I want to keep that going.

That doesn't mean that live action shows all just need to be sitcoms. We've done some cool things like bringing back Are You Afraid of the Dark? That was very successful for us. I'm really proud of our show with Imagine, The Astronauts. That was a real departure for us, and we got nominated for a bunch of awards for that, including a DGA Award. We're going to keep trying different things, but we don't need to keep doing them the way we did 10 years ago. I believe we have to have a portfolio and keep learning and trying new things. And most importantly, we have to make stars.

One of the first shows I greenlit was Ryan's Mystery Playdate, to bring that kid from YouTube to Nickelodeon. If you're in showbiz now and don't know that YouTube stars are as big or bigger now than mainstream television and film stars, you're not awake. [laughs] Especially when it comes to kids. My brain doesn't even work that way anymore. I don't think of them as "YouTube stars," I just think "Oh, that kid's a big star." Whether it's YouTube or NBC or film or TikTok, a star is a star.


From Variety:

Nickelodeon Bets on ‘Rugrats’ Revival in Animation Ramp-Up

They may be young, but the young animated characters who make up the Rugrats are not to be dismissed.

Nickelodeon stopped making original episodes of the iconic series in 2004, but will re-launch the program in 2021, reuniting many of the actors who gave the toddlers at the center of the series voice and adding a wide array of new actors to many of their parents. “It’s an enormous responsibility. It’s such a beloved franchise,” says Brian Robbins, president of ViacomCBS’ Nickelodeon, in an interview. “We have a lot of the original creative team back including the voice cast of all the babies. That’s exciting and that’s a giant stamp of approval.”

The kids-media giant is betting on a wide range of new animation projects — it has hired more than 500 people in the past year at its animation studio and put more than 50 projects into development —  to attract both kids and parents as Nickelodeon and its rivals refashion themselves for an era when an increasing amount of their audience watches new programs via broadband, in addition to linear TV. Some of the new Nickelodeon series may surface first on Paramount Plus, ViacomCBS’ new streaming-video hub and Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer of its U.S. ad sales, says the company is open to devising packages that encompass both traditional TV and streaming inventory.

Nickelodeon will introduce animated series based on “Star Trek,” “Monster High,” “The Smurfs” and “Big Nate,” along with a “SpongeBob SquarePants” spinoff that puts character Patrick Star at the center of things. The network announced a new series, “ZJ Sparkleton,”a buddy comedy produced by Nelvana that follows a ten-year-old vlogger and her space alien best friend. “The Hamster Show” is aimed at preschoolers, and follows a crew of hamsters who protect an eight year old they believe is their king.

The network will also continue to develop its live-action series. “That Girl Lay Lay” will debut this summer and features hip hop artist Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High in a  new comedy about an avatar from a personal affirmation app who comes to life. “Warped!” is a new buddy comedy that follows co-workers at a comic-book shop. Nickelodeon renewed two of its best-known current live-action series, “Danger Force,” its best watched live action program among kids between six and 11, and “Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan,” for second seasons. The network also ordered six additional episodes of “Side Hustle,” bringing the first season to a total of 26 episodes.

Robbins believes the new “Rugrats” will attract parents who watched the series as kids as well as their offspring. And the show will have many familiar elements, including original cast members E.G. Daily,  Nancy Cartwright,, Cheryl Chase,  Cree Summer and Kath Soucie. They will be joined by Ashley Rae Spillers  and Tommy Dewey, who play Tommy’s parents; Tony Hale as Chuckie’s father; Natalie Morales  as Phil and Lil’s mother; Anna Chlumsky and Timothy Simons as Angelica’s parents; Nicole Byer and Omar Miller as Susie’s parents; and Michael McKean  as Grandpa Lou Pickles. The series, which will appear first on Paramount Plus, is set to debut this spring.


From Deadline:

Lay Lay Comedy Series Leads Nickelodeon Slate, Kids’ Net Orders Buddy Comedy, Two Animated & Boss Brian Robbins Hints At More Sports Following NFL Kick-Off

Teen hip-hop star Alaya High, otherwise known as Lay Lay, is to front a live-action comedy series for Nickelodeon – a series that leads the kids’ networks latest original programming slate.

That Girl Lay Lay is joined by a series order for Warped!, a new live-action buddy comedy series from Kevin Kopelow & Heath Seifert, the EPs/showrunners of Nickelodeon’s All That and two animated series ZJ Sparkleton and The Hamster Show.

That Girl Lay Lay was created by David A. Arnold, a writer-producer on Netflix’s Fuller House and follows Lay Lay, an avatar from a personal affirmation app that magically comes to life, and her best friend Sadie as they navigate life as teenagers and discover who they truly are.

The 13-part series is produced by Will Packer and his production company Will Packer Media with production set to begin this spring for a summer premiere.

It marks the first show to emerge from High’s overall deal with Nickelodeon that she signed last summer. At 11, Lay Lay became the youngest female rapper to sign a record deal via her own imprint and released her debut project – Tha Cheat Code – in 2018.

Packer and Carolyn Newman exec produce the show alongside Arnold, who is showrunner. John Beck and Ron Hart also exec produce.

Packer called Lay Lay a “multi-talented force of nature destined for mega stardom”.

“I’m so excited about what she represents as a talented African-American girl with her own platform to showcase her unique abilities,” he said.

In October, Deadline revealed that Nickelodeon was piloting Warped!, which is set in a comic book store. The project has now received a 13-episode series order.

It follows Milo, the beloved head geek at popular comic book shop Warped!, who forms an unlikely alliance with his new quirky and excitable co-worker Ruby to create the world’s greatest graphic novel.

Kate Godfrey (All That) plays Ruby, an outgoing and impulsive pop culture nerd whose encyclopedic knowledge of comic books makes her irreplaceable as the newest hire at Warped!. Anton Starkman (Storks) plays Milo, the intelligent and responsible leader of the comic book shop who is constantly using his creativity to keep him and Ruby out of trouble, while Ariana Molkara (Septembers of Shiraz) and Christopher Martinez (Timmy Failure) also star.

Kopelow and Seifert created the show and write and exec produce with Kevin Kay (All That) also serving as exec producer. The pilot is directed by Jonathan Judge (Punky Brewster).

On the animation side, Nickelodeon has ordered ZJ Sparkleton (w/t) and The Hamster Show (w/t).

ZJ Sparkleton is for kids 6-11 and The Hamster Show is for pre-schoolers. Both shows are half hours with 26 episode orders. ZJ Sparkleton follows creative vlogger Ruby and her goofy alien best friend ZJ Sparkleton as they film their daily mishaps and adventures around their town.

The Hamster Show centers on a motley crew of hamsters that work together to protect their owner, who they mistake as their King and beloved ruler of their elaborate tubed kingdom.

ZJ Sparkleton is created by Brian Morante (Penguins of Madagascar). Mike Geiger is the director and Lynne Warner is the supervising producer. The Hamster Show is created by Zach Smith (Baby Shark’s Big Show!). Jason Groh is the director and Warner is the supervising producer. Both shows are produced by Nelvana and will launch in 2022.

ZJ Sparkleton and The Hamster Show join Nickelodeon’s growing slate of animation, which also includes Star Trek: Prodigy, Rugrats, Baby Shark’s Big Show!, The Smurfs, The Patrick Star Show, Big Nate and The Tiny Chef Show.

Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family, who has been on the job for two years, said this slate, particularly on the animation side, has been “brewing from the beginning”.

He said that the balance between animation and live-action will continue as it is and he hopes that it all forms part of a “portfolio of great shows”.

These shows for the linear Nickelodeon network come after Paramount+ debuted earlier this month with plans for a number of key Nick brands such as iCarly and SpongeBob Squarepants spinoff Kamp Koral and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.

He told Deadline, “I look at the business of Nickelodeon not as a linear television network, we look at ourselves as a brand. Linear television is still one of the biggest reaches for us today… but we also know that kids’ consumption habits have changed dramatically. What we want is our content to be available wherever they are consuming so Paramount+ is a great opportunity to expand our reach and it really helps us with our ultimate goal.”

He admitted that it will still license content to other platforms – there are a number of seasons of the original iCarly on Netflix – on a case-by-case basis but “mostly our focus is on our platforms”.

Last year, Nickelodeon had success with its trial of an NFL for the first time. The kids’ network aired a simulcast of the Chicago Bear vs New Orleans Saints wild card game and won plaudits for its commentary, kids-themed graphics and the fact that they slimed Saints head coach Sean Payton after his team won.

Robbins said it was a “great day for us” and was proud of it, along with how it covered the Super Bowl. He added that they were working out whether they will do more next season and hinted that they may try and expand the format for other sports – Paramount+ has the rights, for instance, to the European Champions League, which features teams such as Premier League winners Liverpool.

“I think you’ll see more of that. Whether it manifests itself in future NFL games or other sports, that’s to be seen, but rest assured, it’s not the last time that Nickelodeon and professional sports will collide,” he added.

The corporate syngery will continue – the network is developing an animated film with The Late Late Show host James Corden and exec producer Ben Winston. The pair are adapting kids book Real Pigeons Fight Crime.

“A lot of people underestimated putting Viacom and CBS together but I think Nickelodeon has benefited greatly from the combination of those companies and the launch of Paramount+ and the work that was done is a big statement. It’s really proven to be successful,” he said.

Finally, a decision or a plan around controversial animated preschool show Made By Maddie, is expected soon. Nick Jr. removed the show from its schedule – it was set to premiere on September 13, 2020 – but was pulled after similarities between its characters and those in Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning short Hair Love.

Robbins said there was “nothing yet”. “We’ll probably have an announcement soon about the strategy for Made By Maddie but I’m not ready to tell you yet,” he added.


From AdAge:


While linear remains key, the kid-friendly network is ramping up its digital offerings via Paramount+, Pluto TV and YouTube

Fitting for this pandemic era, Nickelodeon aimed to unite its young audience, children who in many cases are still learning virtually, and its all-grown-up partners, a.k.a. their adult parents who would normally lock the home office door for a Thursday afternoon TV industry presentation.

The result: “The Nickelodeon Virtual Upfront Show: Bring Your Kids,” a child-friendly event that encourages parents and kids to sit down together to enjoy Nickelodeon’s grand unveiling of its future plans.

Starting off as an ordinary Zoom call, a glitch soon turns the upfront into a cartoon journey led by an animated version of Nickelodeon actress Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lincoln Loud, the fictional lead of animated series “The Loud House.” Together, they go on a whimsical journey to Paramount+ Island, Slate Mountain and Franchise Hall, working their way through the network’s 2021 agenda. (The presentation doesn’t shy away from TV industry lingo, although it attempts to explain unfamiliar terms like platform ubiquity and purchase funnels in an easy-to-understand way.)

“We’ve all been at home on Zoom for a year now doing virtual presentations. This [idea] came out of, ‘God, we can’t do another Zoom call,’” says Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins. The idea to create this year’s fantastical animated voyage of an upfront was originally tossed out on a phone call, with full production and animation being completed in just six to eight weeks, he adds. “We wanted to put our own stamp on it and do something original.”

Nickelodeon will roll out its 2021-22 slate across a mix of both linear TV and streaming services, chiefly ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ and Pluto TV. Nick’s increasing emphasis on ad-supported video on demand and ad-free streaming platforms as a complement to linear, which is still a major top-of-funnel player in the kids and family demo, reflects audiences’ interest in watching wherever they are.

“Linear TV for Nickelodeon is still our biggest reach vehicle and one of our most important vehicles. It’s very important that we deliver great content there and a great experience there,” Robbins says, noting the “majority” of the network’s new premieres are still on TV. 

But in an effort to provide platform and brand ubiquity, Nickelodeon is committing over 7,000 episodes of its shows to its newly launched Paramount+, as well as offering some older library content to unaffiliated SVOD services like Netflix and Hulu. The network has also launched five new YouTube channels recently, which collectively recorded a 75% uptick in traffic on that site year-over-year.

”Pluto Kids and Paramount+ both offer vast distribution opportunities for prospective advertisers,"Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, ViacomCBS, says in a message to clients, noting marketers’ demand for shows like iCarly that lend themselves to organic brand integrations.

Flash back

Nickelodeon’s 2021-22 slate leans heavily into animation. The network also has some big-name revivals in the works that early Nickelodeon fans, many of whom are now adults with kids of their own, are sure to recognize.

Iconic animated series “Rugrats” is due to a return as a “re-imagining” of the beloved ‘90s show with some of the original voice actors, coming to Paramount+ this spring and to TV at a to-be-determined date later in 2021. Meanwhile, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which first aired in 1999 and is currently in its 13th season, is getting two spinoffs: “The Patrick Star Show,” featuring SpongeBob’s pink starfish pal, which will debut on Nick in July; and “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years,” a 3D animated series streaming on Paramount+ now and coming to TV this fall, which serves as a prequel to the original show.

“We now have a whole generation of parents who grew up watching our shows,” says Robbins, who adds that all-grown-up fans of the 39-year-old network enjoy introducing their kids to the programs they grew up with as well as new Nick content.

“We also know that there’s more co-viewing now than ever before,” he adds—an aspect of the pandemic that is evident in Nickelodeon’s kid-friendly upfront. “That screen in the living room has become the screen.”

On the live-action side of things, hit sitcom iCarly is slated for a revival with its main characters “navigating our 20s and making videos in a world where every seven-year-old is a TikTok star,” says lead actress Miranda Cosgrove, who makes a cameo in the upfront presentation. That series will premiere this summer on Paramount+.

Also on the live docket: puppet-based TV show “The Barbarian and the Troll,” premiering on Nickelodeon in early April; “Warped!” a buddy comedy from the creators of “Good Burger” that’s coming to Nick this fall; and “The J Team,” a feature-length film starring JoJo Siwa set to debut sometime this year.


From AdWeek:

Nickelodeon Broadens Upfront Focus from Linear-Only to Streaming-Fueled ‘Multiverse’

Networks still dominate, but Paramount+, Pluto TV and YouTube are scaling rapidly

Nickelodeon's upfront featured an animated explainer about the brand's "multiverse."

In its return to the upfront stage Thursday afternoon, Nickelodeon held an event that was untraditional in form and substance: The ViacomCBS children’s brand created a presentation for clients to watch alongside their kids. And instead of doing what many companies do at their upfront events—ignoring the elephant in the room that is declining linear ratings—Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins addressed the trend head on, and even offered marketers a solution.

It was all part of Nickelodeon’s multiplatform upfront, which focused on the Nickelodeon “multiverse” that encompasses rapidly growing engagement on a variety of digital platforms—including free, ad-supported services like ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and the company’s new streaming service, Paramount+.

Virtual presentation for marketers and their kids will be held March 18.


The biggest audience is on linear TV

“Linear television is still where our biggest audience is,” Robbins told Adweek, “but we also know that the audience is consuming our brand and our content in many different ways. And we also have other solutions to reach that audience beyond linear.”

“We want our content to be wherever our consumers are consuming,” added Robbins, ViacomCBS’ kids and family entertainment president.

The 16-minute Nickelodeon Virtual Upfront Show: Bring Your Kids! presentation began with Robbins and ViacomCBS ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross appearing on a Zoom call with several Nickelodeon stars to discuss potential upfront ideas. It quickly morphed into an animated explainer video about the Nickelodeon “multiverse” across various platforms and franchises, co-hosted by Unfiltered’s Gabrielle Nevaeh Green (in animated form), and Lincoln Loud, a character from the animated series The Loud House.

Nickelodeon talent joined Brian Robbins and Jo Ann Ross on a Zoom call to kick off the upfront event.

“We’ve all been on Zoom for a year now, and [the] thought of doing yet another Zoom presentation—[especially] an upfront on Zoom—was just unbearable,” Robbins said of the presentation’s animated approach. After realizing that marketers were working from home alongside their kids, the company determined that this was a chance for “clients to share part of their workday with their kids—who are actually our audience.”

Robbins hoped that marketers would see the presentation “through their kids’ eyes and enjoy it” with them.

There’s another benefit to having clients watch alongside their kids: It helps reinforce the idea that Nickelodeon is a co-viewing destination for families—and therefore a solution to viewer fragmentation.

Streaming numbers are exploding

Despite their declining ratings, the linear Nickelodeon networks currently remain the brand’s biggest platform to reach kids and their families. “Linear is where the majority of our premieres are” and “where the majority of our dollars are spent,” Robbins explained.

But the company said its streaming numbers are spiking: The viewing time spent on Pluto TV’s kids hub is projected to double by year’s end—increasing from 1.9 billion minutes viewed in Q4 2020 to 4.8 billion minutes in Q4 2021. On YouTube, where five new Nickelodeon channels debuted this year, viewing is up 75% from a year ago, reaching 3.3 billion streams in Q4 2020.

The latest major addition to the streaming arsenal is Paramount+, which rolled out March 4 and features 7,000 episodes of Nickelodeon library programming as well as a handful of original shows, including the third SpongeBob SquarePants movie, Sponge on the Run.

The president and CEO of ViacomCBS streaming wants to take a contrarian approach to the streaming wars. 

That streaming surge is why the company projected that the total number of minutes viewers spend on Nickelodeon content across all platforms will increase 3% year over year, even as linear share of viewing declines in favor of streaming platforms (from 75% linear and 25% digital in Q4 2020 to 64% linear and 34% digital in Q4 2021).

Speaking with Adweek two weeks after the Paramount+ launch, Robbins said that determining which of the brand’s content debuts on Nickelodeon and which will first go to Paramount+ “is still a work in progress, and we’re experimenting with the windowing.”

Ultimately, however, those programs will end up on both platforms. For example, one of two SpongeBob spinoffs, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, debuted in Paramount+ this month. The second, The Patrick Star Show, will premiere on Nickelodeon in June. However, both shows will migrate to the other platform several months after their respective premieres.

“For us, it’s just a way to reach the audience in multiple ways on multiple platforms, and really make our shows ubiquitous within our own ecosystem,” said Robbins, who has been working on broadening Nickelodeon’s reach beyond linear since he arrived at the company in fall 2018.

‘Our biggest animated slate in history’

As part of its upfront, Nickelodeon rolled out what Robbins called “our biggest animated slate in history.” Highlights include a Rugrats reboot (premiering this spring on Paramount+), Big Nate (based on Lincoln Peirce’s childrens books, coming to Nickelodeon in September), a Smurfs reboot (October on Nickelodeon), Star Trek: Prodigy (later this year on Paramount+), Monster High (2022, Nickelodeon) and Transformers (2022, Nickelodeon).

Among its new animated content for preschoolers, Nickelodeon has a Baby Shark series (Baby Shark’s Big Show! will arrive March 26) and a Paw Patrol movie (due to open in theaters on Aug. 20).

The brand’s live action offerings include the iCarly revival (coming to Paramount+ this summer), That Girl Lay Lay (starring hip-hop artist Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High, airing on Nickelodeon this summer), a Loud House live-action holiday TV movie (due in November on Nickelodeon) and a Monster High live action TV movie (scheduled for Nickelodeon in 2022).

Additionally, Nickelodeon renewed a pair of live action shows for Season 2: Henry Danger spinoff Danger Force and Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan.

This was Nickelodeon’s first upfront event since 2018, following two years of kicking off its upfront business at the Toy Fair in New York, where the brand would announce its programming slate at a presentation for toy clients.

ViacomCBS will also return to upfronts week in May, holding its virtual presentation the afternoon of May 19.


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