Today’s immersive co-viewing event The Nickelodeon Virtual Upfront Show: Bring Your Kids! took attendees on an eye-opening tour across the Nickiverse, outlining what the future holds for the leading kids’ brand — which includes a strategic expansion across its own and third-party platforms, growing its global franchises and launching a massive content pipeline — including the largest animation slate in its 41-year history — for the 2021-22 season. Also providing a host of information and extended plans for each of its franchises, the Upfront featured full-episode sneak peeks of new series, and activities and prizes for adults and kids.
“We’re applying our commitment to creating relatable characters and content to our upfront presentation so our partners can experience Nickelodeon exactly the way kids do, with surprise, humor and relevance,” said Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family. “The fragmentation across linear only accelerated these past 12 months, so this year’s format literally illustrates our strategy to marshal our global franchises, co-viewing strengths and our new content slate across all available platforms.”
The Nickelodeon Virtual Upfront Show: Bring Your Kids! outlines Nickelodeon’s commitment to expand its reach through investment in and production of content for every key platform that is important to kids, including: linear, where Nick dominates the top 10 across every kids’ demo; Paramount+, which houses 7,000+ episodes of Nick’s library and a growing slate of all-new original shows; Pluto TV, which programs Nick content across its kids’ channels; YouTube, with five new Nick channels launched this year; and SVOD, where viewers can sample key content offerings.
“While linear is still the largest reach vehicle for kids and our ubiquity there remains strong, our strategy to have Nick content across platforms outside of our own allows us to meet kids wherever they are, fill their increasing demand for more content, and ultimately bring them back to our brand for more,” Robbins added.
Nickelodeon has doubled down on original animation, with its Burbank-based Animation Studio helmed by Animation President Ramsey Naito hiring over 500 people in the last year alone, and putting over 50 projects in development across series, Studio business and theatricals. Nick’s new content slate teed up for this season includes 15 new preschool and kids’ series.
The animation slate includes two new, creator-driven, 2D-animated series greenlit with Nelvana, ZJ Sparkleton (working title) for kids 6-11 and The Hamster Show (WT) for preschoolers. “Nelvana is excited to build upon our partnership with Nickelodeon and contribute to their massive animation pipeline with new IP for a global audience,” said Pam Westman, President, Nelvana. “With lovable characters and hilarious storylines, ZJ Sparkleton and The Hamster Show are two titles that we look forward to adding to our production slate.”
- In ZJ Sparkleton (26 x half-hours), quirky 10-year-old vlogger Ruby discovers her only video channel follower is a tail-zapping space alien from the planet Pudge named ZJ Sparkleton, and they quickly become best friends. Along with their friend Earl, a talking con-man squirrel, Ruby teaches ZJ about her version of Earth, while ZJ learns to control his unpredictable powers.
Created by Brian Morante (Penguins of Madagascar, Breadwinners, SpongeBob SquarePants). Mike Geiger (3 Amigonauts, Winston Steinburger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong) is the director and Lynne Warner (Corn & Peg, The Most Magnificent Thing) is the supervising producer for Nelvana. Kari Kim, VP, Animation Development; Claudia Spinelli, SVP, Animation Development; and Conrad Montgomery, VP, Current Series Animation, are overseeing production of the series for Nickelodeon.
- In The Hamster Show (26 x half-hours), eight-year-old Harry is the proud owner of a crew of hamsters and the builder of their detailed and expansive tubed home. Little does Harry know that his furry friends are constantly watching him, believing that Harry is their King and they are his heroic protectors. Together, the hamsters explore their kingdom, comedically misunderstanding the human world and braving “royal missions,” such as saving King Harry from daily doom, granting his wishes and keeping his life running smoothly.
Created by Zach Smith (Baby Shark’s Big Show!). Jason Groh (Go Away, Unicorn!, Wishfart) is the director and Lynne Warner (Corn & Peg, The Most Magnificent Thing) is the supervising producer for Nelvana. Eryk Casemiro, SVP, Nickelodeon Preschool, is overseeing production of the series for Nickelodeon
“ZJ Sparkleton and The Hamster Show are great additions to Nickelodeon’s growing slate of new content because friendship, humor and relatable characters are at the core,” said Naito. “The series creators, Brian Morante and Zach Smith, have a history of bringing unique stories to life at Nickelodeon and we can’t wait to dive in with our production partners at Nelvana on these originals.”
The Upfront also announced an all-star roster of voice talent rounding out the cast of the reimagined Rugrats. Joining the original voices of the adventurous toddlers are:
- Ashley Rae Spillers (Vice Principals) and Tommy Dewey (The Mindy Project), as Tommy’s parents: Didi, a passionate artisan and blogger, and Stu, an optimistic inventor.
- Tony Hale (Arrested Development), as Chuckie’s father, Chas, a neurotic musician.
- Natalie Morales (Dead to Me), as Phil and Lil’s mother, Betty, Didi’s best friend and coffeehouse owner.
- Anna Chlumsky (Veep) and Timothy Simons (Veep), as Angelica’s parents: Charlotte, a busy city councilperson, and Drew, a successful pharmaceutical representative.
- Nicole Byer (Nailed It!) and Omar Miller (Ballers), as Susie’s parents Lucy, a fun and generous physician, and Randy, an affable and good-natured science teacher.
- Michael McKean (Better Call Saul) as Grandpa Lou Pickles.
“This incredibly talented group of actors provides a fresh and very funny take on these iconic roles, combining humor with heart to bring the characters to life in a whole new way,” said Liz Paulson, Senior Vice President, Talent and Casting, Nickelodeon. The new voice actors join previously announced cast members E.G. Daily (Tommy), Nancy Cartwright (Chuckie), Cheryl Chase (Angelica), Cree Summer (Susie) and Kath Soucie (Phil and Lil), who are all reprising their iconic roles
Produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Rugrats, a Paramount+ Original Series, is set to debut on the streaming service this spring. “The all-new Rugrats is packed with comedy, music and adventures that only babies can embark upon, and the role of the grown-ups is an essential piece of the series,” added Naito.
Based on the series created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain, Rugrats is again being exec produced by Eryk Casemiro and Kate Boutilier; Dave Pressler (Robot and Monster) and Casey Leonard (Breadwinners) serve as co-executive producers, with Rachel Lipman (Rugrats) as co-producer and Kellie Smith (The Fairly OddParents) as line producer. Production is overseen by Mollie Freilich, Senior Manager, Current Series Animation, Nickelodeon. Casting is overseen by Paulson.
- Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years (available now on Paramount+; premieres September 2021 on Nickelodeon) – This CG-animated prequel marks the first-ever SpongeBob SquarePants spinoff and follows 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants and his pals during summer sleepaway camp where they spend their time building underwater campfires, catching wild jellyfish and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck at the craziest camp in the kelp forest. Nick has picked up an additional 13 episodes of the series, bring the total season one order to 26.
- Rugrats (premieres spring 2021 on Paramount+, followed by a later premiere on Nickelodeon) – This reimagining of Nick’s iconic ‘90s hit will reunite members of the original voice cast and follow the iconic crew of toddlers — Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, Angelica Pickles, Susie Carmichael, and twins Phil and Lil DeVille — throughout their day-to-day lives that become adventures in their minds.
- The Patrick Star Show (premieres July 2021 on Nickelodeon) – The second spinoff of the number-one animated series SpongeBob SquarePants is a family sitcom starring Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) and the rest of his family, as they are constantly disrupted by Patrick’s wild whims and surreal imagination.
- Middlemost Post (premieres July 2021 on Nickelodeon) – Combining quirky characters with hilarious adventures and unwavering friendship, this 2D-animated series follows Parker, a former rain cloud; Angus, a brawny mailman; and Russell, their magical pet walrus, as they deliver packages to the unusual inhabitants of Mount Middlemost.
- Big Nate (premieres September 2021 on Nickelodeon) – Based on the best-selling children’s books, written and drawn by acclaimed author and cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, this new TV series will feature brand-new original storylines centered on Nate, a precocious 11-year-old boy, and his mischievous shenanigans that usually result in disaster, detention or both.
- The Smurfs TV series (premieres October 2021 on Nickelodeon) – Based on the iconic property and in partnership with LAFIG Belgium and IMPS, The Smurfs is a brand-new original CG-animated TV series following Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty, Clumsy and others, on all-new adventures, packed with humor, heart and high-stakes action.
- Star Trek: Prodigy (premieres 2021 on Paramount+) – An expansion of the Star Trek Universe, the new CG-animated series follows a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. Star Trek: Prodigy is from CBS’ Eye Animation Productions, CBS Studios’ new animation arm; Nickelodeon Animation Studio; Secret Hideout; and Roddenberry Entertainment.
- Monster High TV series (premieres 2022 on Nickelodeon) – Mattel, Inc. and Nickelodeon are producing a brand-new animated series based on Monster High, the iconic franchise about the children of famous monsters and creatures. The series, which will be available globally across Nickelodeon platforms, follows fan-favorite characters Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura, and Frankie Stein as they navigate the hilarity of high school in the hallowed halls of Monster High.
- Transformers (premieres 2022 on Nickelodeon) – Based on Hasbro’s iconic global property, the original animated series co-produced by Nickelodeon and Hasbro’s entertainment studio eOne will follow a new species of Transformers who must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family that adopts them.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (theatrical release in 2023) – Nickelodeon and award-winning Point Grey Pictures’ (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver) are in production on an all-new CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical motion picture, distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- Avatar Studios – Nickelodeon Animation Studios’ new division, helmed by original creators and co-chief creative officers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, will create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the beloved world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. The Studio’s output will bow on platforms including Paramount+, ViacomCBS’ subscription video on-demand service; on Nickelodeon’s own linear and digital platforms; as well as on third-party platforms and in theaters. The first project, an animated theatrical film, is set to begin production later this year.
- Baby Shark’s Big Show! (premieres March 26, 2021 on Nickelodeon) – Based on the world-famous pop culture phenomenon, this brand-new series centers on Baby Shark and his best friend William as they journey on fun-filled comedic adventures in their community of Carnivore Cove, make new friends and sing original catchy tunes along the way. Baby Shark’s Big Show! is co-produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and SmartStudy, the global entertainment company behind the beloved children’s brand Pinkfong.
- PAW Patrol: The Movie (premieres August 20, 2021 in theaters) – A Spin Master Entertainment production in association with Nickelodeon Movies, this major motion picture animated feature film is based on the award-winning preschool series PAW Patrol and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- The Tiny Chef Show (working title; premieres 2022 on Nickelodeon) – Herbivore social media sensation The Tiny Chef is bringing his culinary adventures to Nickelodeon in a brand-new series, produced in association with Imagine Kids+Family, Tiny Chef Productions, and Nickelodeon Animation Studio, that will follow the talented chef as he whips up tasty ‘weshipees’ and the world’s tiniest plant-based dishes from his tree-stump home.
Additionally, the brand has announced plans for a new live-action TV movie inspired by one of its hit animated series: The Loud House: A Very Loud Christmas! (WT; premieres November 2021 on Nickelodeon). Production is set to begin in April and casting is currently underway, with Wolfgang Schaeffer (Criminal Minds) tapped to play 11-year-old Lincoln Loud and Jahzir Bruno (The Witches) as Clyde McBride, Lincoln’s best friend.
And puppetry fans can look forward to The Barbarian and the Troll, premiering April 2 on Nickelodeon. This fantasy-comedy series follows Evan, a bridge troll in search of adventure, and Brendar, a fierce female warrior on a quest to defeat the evil demon who has imprisoned her brother. The series is co-created and executive produced by Mike Mitchell (Trolls, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part) and Drew Massey, who co-stars with Spencer Grammer. Mitchell also serves as the show’s primary director. Production for Nickelodeon is overseen by Zack Olin, SVP of Live Action; and Shauna Phelan, SVP of Live-Action Scripted Content.