America Online’s original web series, Princess Natasha, is extending its kingdom through a licensing deal with Cartoon Network. Developed for the KOL kids service by independent toon shop Animation Collective, 20 animated shorts will make their way to the network’s TV lineup later this year. The property has also been picked up by publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
“We feel strongly that these deals represent a major shift in the way original Internet programming is being perceived by the entertainment industry,” says Malcolm Bird, AOL’s senior VP and general manager for kids and teens programming. He cites the growing use of broadband Internet service as a pivotal factor in making the web a viable medium for launching content and building brands.
"Princess Natasha will be a great addition to Cartoon Network’s line-up of girl power series, like Atomic Betty and Totally Spies," comments Bob Higgins, senior VP of programming and original animation for Cartoon Network. "We think it’s a fun cartoon that kids can relate to with exciting characters, adventurous plotlines and a unique look."
The first season of the Princess Natasha online series saw hundreds of thousands of kids log in to follow the escapades of the student spy in 10- to 15-minute original webisodes. Season Two’s 10 new weekly installments continue to follow our heroine as she acquires the invisibility spray, finds Zoravia’s stolen national treasure and discovers a double agent.
In December of 2004, AOL extended Princess Natasha’s reign by launching a web-based comic book series and online games based on the property. Natasha titles such as Welcome to Lake Trouble and Oleg’s Super Secret Fort Smashin’ Robots can be found in KOL’s online games library
In addition to Princess Natasha, New York City-based Animation Collective develops games and produces the Kung Fu Academy web series for KOL. The Flash animation house also produces Fox Box’s Crash Dummies with 4Kids Ent. and the Nicktoons series Leader Dog and Tortellini Western.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers plans to release the first two digest books in its Princess Natasha series in May of 2006.