Nick Upfront: Network Greenlights Consumer-Generated Scripted Series


Continuing to try and embrace the consumer-generated content trend, Nickelodeon has greenlighted iCarly, a scripted comedy that will integrate video submitted by its viewers.

The show, starring Drake & Josh's Miranda Cosgrove, will revolve around a a middle school girl who becomes a star after creating a Webcast in her basement. Carly will solicit viewer-created content in response to weekly assignments, and the best submissions will be integrated into the online show or on-air show, which is set for a September 2007 launch.

The iCarly announcement comes three weeks after Nick launched Me:TV, a two-hour, hosted weekday block that features submissions from Nick's broadband site TurboNick. The block's content has yielded about 50,000 online streams since it launched, Nick says.

The network is aiming to involve its kid viewers by letting them control and personalize content and also to create a “pitch and catch” relationship between the Web and TV, where one feeds the other’s success, says Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group.

“That’s what MTVN brings to the table – a legitimate connectedness between the Internet and television,” she said.

Nick executives announced the show to media buyers at the network's annual upfront presentation in New York Thursday morning. The show, a nod to Nick's upcoming 20th Annual Kids Choice Awards, featured an orange-carpet theme and Nick talent presenting gag awards to media buyers.

Although not nearly as much as they did in last year's multiplatform-focused upfront pitch, Nick executives took care to tout the brand's emerging media properties.

Recently revamped broadband site TuroNick 2.0 generated its highest ever traffic in February – more than 77 million streams, according to Nick. New social-networking site Nicktropolis has generated about 1 million unique members in the five weeks since its launch. Acquired virtual world Neopets plans to add a broadband player and on-air interstitials soon.

Announcements of new linear TV shows were sparse - new teen-targeted shows The Naked Brothers Band and Just Jordan will return for second seasons, along with new episodes of Zoey 101; preschool shows The Umizumiz, Bubble Guppies, and Making Fiends join the schedule in 2007-08. Nick at Nite adds America's Funniest Home Videos and George Lopez in April and fall, respectively.

While the upfront featured taped footage from Kids Choice host Justin Timberlake, its most audience-pleasing segment was a performance by Nick's own "JT" - Ad Sales Senior VP Jim Tricario. Channeling Timberlake, Tricario and four backup dancers shimmied to "Sexy Back," rewritten for the upfront to include chants of "ROI! ROI! ROI! ROI!" and "Get Your Sales-y On."