Girl power rocks

Fox Kids fall toon slate targets distaff aud

Fox Kids Network will tap a little girl power to combat “Pokemon” this fall.

Announcing its fall slate at Fox Family’s upfront presentation this afternoon, the kids outlet is expected to announce a number of new shows that boast some female appeal.

Tops on that list is “CyberSix,” Fox Kids’ first animated action series to feature a female lead.

Fox Kids’ action-fueled lineup has long performed much better with boys than girls. Season to date, Fox Kids averages a 4.9 Nielsen rating among boys 6 to 11. But the network only scores a 1.3 rating among girls 6 to 11.

Fox Kids isn’t the only male-heavy outlet on Saturday mornings. The boy-skewing “Pokemon” has now altered the balance of gender at Saturday morning champ Kids’ WB, which attracts almost three times more boys than girls (6.5 vs. 2.7 in the ages 6 to 11 derby).

With that in mind, Fox Kids execs see an opportunity to broaden out by targeting the underserved girl audience.

“I hate having girls think that ‘Fox Kids is not a place for me,'” said Fox Kids g.m. Maureen Smith. “We’re so heavily boys right now … for business purposes, it’s smarter to be a little more balanced.”

Girls fare better at ABC and Nickelodeon, which especially dominates among girls. Although girls have been featured in the past on Fox Kids skeins such as “Power Rangers” and “NASCAR Racers,” Smith said the network is looking for shows with females in larger roles.

“The trick is to bring in girls who love that programming without disenfranchising the boys,” Smith said.

In the heyday of the “Power Rangers” in the mid-’90s, Fox Kids attracted a more balanced mix of kids, with a 60% boys-40% girls.

“I’m not saying we’ll ever be 50-50,” Smith said. “But I’d like to get back to (the 60-40 makeup). It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s absolutely doable.”

Fox Kids has ordered 13 episodes of the anime-influenced “CyberSix,” which follows the story of a rebellious female cyborg who runs away from her creator, the evil mad scientist Von Richter.

Disguised as a male high school teacher by day, CyberSix battles Von Richter’s plot for global domination by night.

“CyberSix” from TMS Entertainment and NOA, has already aired in Canada, where the show delivers an equal mix of boys and girls, according to Smith.

The network also expects to pick up some girl viewers by bringing back more “prankster comedy,” which has been absent from the Fox Kids lineup this year. The network has greenlit “The Ripping Friends,” from “Ren and Stimpy” creator John Kricfalusi (Daily Variety, Jan. 12).

“The Ripping Friends” features the adventures of four lovable superheroes characterized as the “most macho men alive.”

Meanwhile, the network had already picked up 26 episodes of the computer-generated cartoon “Action Man,” from Mainframe Entertainment, and is expected to bring back shows including “Digimon: Digital Monsters,” “Power Rangers Light Speed Rescue” and “NASCAR Racers.”

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