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With Ratings in Flux, Nickelodeon Puts Upfront Focus on Shows

Kid-focused Nickelodeon expects to air more than 600 episodes of new and returning series in the TV season to come, part of an effort to win advertisers over with a surfeit of the original programming its executives said the network’s young audience craves.

“We’re making more and we are making it faster,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of the Viscom Kids and Family Group, the Viacom unit that houses Nick and a suite of other youth-skewing outlets.

On the docket for the season ahead: Three new series meant to run five days a week for several weeks at a time; a live-action series based on the movie “School of Rock”; and a new series from producers Sid and Marty Kroft. Nickelodeon also articulated developing plans to put popular character SpongeBob SquarePants in a Broadway musical and to extend its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

Nickelodeon’s reveal of its future plans represents its step forward into the ad-sales market known as the “kids’ upfront,” an annual sales process in which Viacom, Time Warner and Walt Disney, among others, vie for what is estimated to be $800 million in advance advertising commitments.

The event takes place as ratings at many kids’ outlets are under scrutiny. Kids’ programming is one of the more popular offerings on streaming-video outlets like Amazon and Netflix. Younger viewers also have demonstrated an ease with accessing programs on mobile devices, behavior not always tabulated in current TV-ratings measurement.

Nickelodeon’s answer to the challenge: content, content and more content. New series include “Talia’s Kitchen,” which follows a 14-year-old in Miami who spends time with her grandmother in a family-owned restaurant; “Make It Pop,” a daily series about three girls who form their own K-Pop band; “Mutt & Stuff,” from famed Saturday-morning TV impresarios Sid and Marty Kroft; and “The W.I.T.s Academy,” a daily series about witches and wizards in training.

Nickelodeon said it would also create content for advertisers, not just its young viewers. A group known as “Nickelodeon Inside Out Solutions,” which will work to craft pieces of content and marketing for Nickelodeon properties across different types of media.

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