Company orders 28 episodes of animated series

Showtime Networks Inc. has picked up 28 episodes of the animated Internet-based sci-fi series “WhirlGirl” to begin airing on its online Web site in February.

The cabler has also inked a multi-year pact with New York-based Visionary Media LLC to produce “WhirlGirl,” with the option to turn it into a TV series for the network and possibly other original Web-based programming for the site.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The series, skedded to debut Feb. 26, revolves around the adventures of Kia Cross, a sassy twentysomething 21st century superheroine fighting to save the world from an evil mediatech empire. A preview of the show is available at http://www.showtimeonline.com.

Each “WhirlGirl” episode, about five minutes in length, will be viewed through streaming animation using Macromedia Flash technology. Fan sites will also be created around the character.

The series is Showtime’s first original series developed for the Web and signals the company’s commitment to original Web content development.

“This is a significant commitment on our part,” said Jeff Morris, senior veep of new media and technology development. “This is the beginning for us to create original Web content. It won’t all be animated, but we are eager to expand the site we have now.”

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