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Kids’ WB ready to take Fridays

Monster 'Pokemon' order to air Fri p.m., Sat a.m.

With its “Pokemon”-fueled schedule dominating Saturday morning ratings, Kids’ WB now has its sights set on Friday.

The tyke broadcaster will announce today plans to schedule an all-original slate of kids programming on Friday afternoons.

Under the tagline “Saturdays start on Friday on Kids’ WB,” the lineup will revolve around a brand new version of “Pokemon.”

Kids WB has ordered 52 episodes of “Pokemon GS,” a new generation of the series from 4Kids Entertainment. Because of the huge order, Kids’ WB will air original episodes of “Pokemon GS” on both Fridays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

New land, new monsters

“Pokemon GS” won’t differ too much from its spawn, but will follow the exploits of Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum as he enters a new land and discovers 100 new Pokemon.

By airing more original programming on Friday afternoons — including the new, evolved “Pokemon GS” — Kids’ WB will have a stronger platform to promote its primetime lineup, especially the weblet’s young-skewing, comedy-oriented Friday night sked.

Placing originals on Friday afternoons also solves a shelf space problem the weblet faced on Saturday morning. Besides “Pokemon,” the animated series “Batman Beyond,” “Men in Black” and newcomer “Max Steel” are all good bets to return next fall.

Kids’ WB will continue to strip repeats on Monday through Thursday afternoons with a lineup that one might call the “best of Kids’ WB.”

Meanwhile, Kids’ WB will tap heavily on the feature film world with its fall slate.

For starters, the launch of “Pokemon GS” comes soon after the second “Pokemon” feature hits theaters this summer.

‘X-Men’ extra

Additionally, new series slated for Kids’ WB this fall include “X-Men,” a new animated version of the Marvel Comics property. “X-Men,” following a group of mutant superheroes, will debut just months after the live-action film from 20th Century Fox is released.

“X-Men” will differ from an earlier version that ran on Fox Kids Network in the mid-’90s but will be somewhat related to the film (which stars Patrick Stewart and Halle Berry and is directed by Bryan Singer).

And there’s “Jackie Chan Adventures” from Sony. The series will feature the animated exploits of the feature film martial arts star. Chan himself will appear in live-action segments of the series (a la Bill Cosby in “Fat Albert”).

With “Pokemon” as hot currency, Kids WB hopes to capitalize on its success by building “X-Men” and “Jackie Chan” into strong franchises as well. At stake is the $900 million kids upfront market.

Nicked Nickelodeon

Much of that money is Kids’ WB’s to lose, given its strength this season. Year to date, Kids’ WB has surpassed perennial leader Nickelodeon in the kids 2 to 11 demographic, averaging a 4.1 rating to Nick’s 3.9. Fox averages a 2.9, and ABC pulls a 3.0.

Year-to-year, Kids’ WB is up a whopping 95%, compared with a 2.1 rating last year.

Among the kids 6 to 11 crowd, Kids’ WB is even hotter — posting a 4.8 rating, up 140% from 2.0 last year. Nickelodeon is in second with a 4.1, followed by Fox (3.2) and ABC (3.1).

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