Nickelodeon is getting in on TV’s revival craze, and will be bringing back one of its most popular shows, Blue’s Clues.
The network made the announcement just ahead of its upfront event, which will be held this afternoon. The Blue’s Clues news is part of an ambitious slate that expands beyond linear and across platforms, with new music festivals, augmented reality apps and a YouTube short-form series.
Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Group, said the network will air more than 800 episodes of new and returning series this season, which is a 20 percent increase over last year.
“More is the new normal, and we have a very robust pipeline, and that’s one of the things that gives us great confidence at the moment. We’re trying to speak to diversity, authenticity, inclusion and make sure that we’re telling stories that are going to be incredibly relevant for today’s kids. That requires that we innovate on a regular basis,” said Zarghami.
Under the new Viacom structure that CEO Bob Bakish implemented last year, “we’re reinventing everything,” said Zarghami. “That’s one of the themes for our upfront this year, is reinvention on behalf of the audience, reinvention because of what’s happening in the industry and reinvention at the heard of the creative community.”
This year’s upfront event was held at New York’s Palace Theatre, the home of the new hit SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which ties into Zarghami’s reinvention theme. “The SpongeBob musical is an incredible example of how great IP at the center can serve the audience on every platform, and by the way, expand the footprint of that audience into families and adults,” she said.
But back to Blue’s Clues: Nickelodeon is bringing back the puppy Blue for a new generation of preschoolers. The series—which ended its original run in 2006—will feature a new, live-action host and CG animation.
The network has renewed Lip Sync Battles Shorties for a second season, with Nick Cannon returning as host, alongside his sidekick JoJo Siwa. It is also developing a spinoff of its animated series The Loud House, called Los Casagrandes.
WWE star John Cena—who is returning to host the Kids’ Choice Awards this year— is executive producing a new game show, Keep It Spotless.
The network greenlit an animated comedy series, Pony, about a talking pony who comes to live with a girl named Annie and their family in a city apartment.
Nickelodeon is the No. 1 network this year for kids 2-11 and kids 6-11, and has been the top-rated kids basic cable network for 22 years, but Bakish admitted during an earnings call last month that the network has had some “ratings softness.” He said it is addressing it by ramping up its marketing and social video strategy, and expanding into live events.
For starters, Nickelodeon will bring the Nickelodeon SlimeFest music festival to the U.S. for the first time, after holding the event in the U.K., South Africa, Australia, Italy and Spain. The two-day festival for kids and families will take place in Chicago on June 9 and 10, and feature performances from Zedd, Liam Payne, Flo Rida and JoJo Siwa. Several other Nickelodeon stars will also be in attendance.
“SlimeFest is a way to bring slime, plus Nickelodeon characters, plus music, to a community where families may want to find entertainment together,” said Zarghami. “It really is great for our brand to come to life where the fans are, as opposed to just expecting them to find us all the time on television.” And Paw Patrol Live, which will make approximately 180 stops around the country, is another success for the brand.