Establishing stronger presence in kidland

NEW YORK — Kids’ WB presented its 1998-99 sked for advertisers Monday at an upfront presentation during which execs predicted sharp ratings improvements as the netlet expands its distribution.

While WB’s 19-hour kids lineup lags behind network competitors Fox Kids and the newly rebounded ABC, WB Television topper Jamie Kellner told ad buyers he expects the web’s distribution to expand significantly in the near future, allowing for strong ratings growth.

“Our ratings will double in the next five years,” he predicted. “The structure we’ve been working on for the past four years is all paying off, and we can be a strong fifth network.”

Kellner cited as an impending source of “major distribution” a deal with the Sinclair station group that will give it carriage on five former UPN affiliate stations.

The four new half-hour shows, as presented by Kids’ WB president Jean MacCurdy, are:

- The tentatively titled “Steven Spielberg Presents Further Adventures of Pinky & the Brain,” a spinoff of the popular animated series that moves Pinky and the Brain from the lab to the suburbs, and brings in Elmyra, a hyperactive tot who is a character from the “Tiny Toon Adventures” series. The show will run 8:30 a.m. Saturdays.

- “Batman Tomorrow,” a futuristic series that pushes the DC Comics hero into the 21st century, airing 9 a.m. Saturdays.

- “BRATS of the Dark Nebula,” a sci-fi adventure series centered on five kids who fight galactic invaders. The show, produced by the Jim Henson Co., combines puppetry and computer imagery and will run at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

- The animated “Warner Bros.’ Histeria,” presenting events from world history in a comic sketch and song format. It will lead off the Saturday-morning block and run weekday afternoons at 3.

WB also for the first time included its online entity, Kids’ WB Internet, in its upfront presentation. According to WB execs, the site is the top seller of online advertising to kids, placing ahead of Disney Online.

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